Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC takes exception to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that colonoscopies are not as effective at preventing colorectal cancer deaths as previously thought.
Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, LLC (FCS) takes exception to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that colonoscopies are not as effective at preventing colorectal cancer deaths as previously thought.
“The authors’ inference that colonoscopies may not be beneficial is misleading,” said FCS President & Managing Physician Michael Diaz, MD. “Based on numerous and more recent studies and the experience of our own FCS physician experts who have been providing cancer care to hundreds of thousands of patients for the past 37 years, the data clearly shows that colonoscopies are among the absolute best tools available for detecting and preventing colon cancer.”
The clinical trial involving more than 80,000 adults in Poland, Norway and Sweden was conducted by clinicians at the University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital from 2009 to 2014 to assess the risks of colorectal cancer and related death as compared to death from any cause.
Dr. Karen Knudsen, Chief Executive Officer at the American Cancer Society, shared in response to the study: “Preventive cancer screenings are the best and most trusted way to save lives. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends colorectal cancer screening, including colonoscopy, for adults beginning at age 45. There’s no reason to change that direction. Recommended cancer screenings should be a routine part of good health.”
FCS Director of Drug Development Manish Patel, MD adds, “only 42% of the individuals in the ‘invited screening group’ underwent colonoscopies, which obscures the interpretation of the results.” He also notes that the study was limited to participants living in Norway, Poland and Sweden.
There are often no signs or symptoms of colorectal polyps or cancer, which is why screening is so important. A recent study co-authored by FCS, conducted for the Community Oncology Alliance (COA) by Avalere Health and published in the November 2020 issue of JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics, supports these facts. “Fearing exposure to COVID-19 during the height of the pandemic, many Americans delayed or even skipped regular screenings,” said FCS Chief Medical Officer Therapeutics & Analytics Lucio N. Gordan, MD. “This resulted in a number of cancers, including colorectal cancers, being diagnosed at later stages when treatment is more complex as well as higher mortality rates.”
“Increasingly, thanks to ongoing clinical advancements in screening technology and the range of personalized precision oncology treatments offered by our statewide practice, a growing number of patients diagnosed with colon cancer are living longer and enjoying life to the fullest,” said Dr. Diaz.
FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan H. Walcker advocates for regular screenings, “FCS supports the American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines that adults at average risk should begin colon cancer screening at age 45 and continue through at least age 75.” Walcker adds, “We know all too well that cancer does not discriminate by age, race, geography or economic standing. For this reason, it is equally important that everyone has proper access to cancer screenings, no matter their circumstance. FCS aligns with the ACS in encouraging everyone to participate in regular screenings.”
The American Cancer Society offers a website, Cancer.org/get-screened, that provides resources for the screening guidelines of several cancer types and guidance on how to find low-cost and free screenings to ensure that all have access to proper preventative care.
Overall, in the U.S., 1 in 23 men (4.4%) and 1 in 25 women (4.1%) are at risk of developing colorectal, or colon, cancer in their lifetime. It is the third most common form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in the nation. The risk increases with age. The majority of cases occur in adults age 50 and older.
For colon cancer, the average age at diagnosis is age 66 for men and age 69 for women. Although recommended that screenings should occur from age 45 to at least 75, it should be noted that for people ages 76 through 85, the decision to be screened should be based on a person’s preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history. People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
Colorectal cancer encompasses cancer of the colon and the rectum, which are parts of the digestive system that process and help pass foods, water and waste material out of the body. This form of cancer occurs when cells grow out of control and form polyps, which can, over time, become cancerous.
Screening tests can detect polyps at an early stage, so they can be removed before turning into cancer. When detected in its early stages, colon cancer is more likely to be cured; treatment is less extensive, and recovery is much faster. The five-year survival rate when colon cancer is diagnosed at early stages (Stage 1 and Stage 2) is 90 percent.
Recognized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) with a national Clinical Trials Participation Award, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS) offers patients access to more clinical trials than any private oncology practice in Florida. The majority of new cancer drugs recently approved for use in the U.S. were studied in clinical trials with Florida Cancer Specialists participation.* Trained in prestigious medical schools and research institutes, our physicians are consistently ranked nationally as Top Doctors by U.S. News & World Report.
Founded in 1984, Florida Cancer Specialists has built a national reputation for excellence that is reflected in exceptional and compassionate patient care, driven by innovative clinical research, cutting-edge technologies and advanced treatments, including targeted therapies, genomic-based treatment, and immunotherapy. Our highest values are embodied by our outstanding team of highly trained and dedicated physicians, clinicians and staff.
*Prior to approval