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Study: Colonoscopy Cuts Cancer Deaths

Invasive test definitely a life-saver, researchers say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2012 11:31 PM CST
Updated Feb 23, 2012 2:00 AM CST

(Newser) – To say colonoscopies are unpopular would be an understatement, but the procedure definitely saves lives, a new study finds. The research, which confirms what doctors have long believed, found that the death rate from colon cancer was cut by 53% among people who had the test and had precancerous growths called polyps removed, reports the New York Times. The study tracked thousands of patients for as long as 20 years.

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"For any cancer screening test, reduction of cancer-related mortality is the holy grail," a gastrointestinal oncologist notes. The research comes as other studies cast doubt on the life-saving potential of other cancer screening procedures, including prostate cancer screening. Colon cancer is the third deadliest kind of cancer in the US, killing some 50,000 people a year. Experts recommend that people get the test—which involves inspecting the intestine with a camera-tipped tube—beginning at age 50. (Read more colonoscopy stories.)

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