ASGE Applauds News of Drop in Colorectal Cancer Deaths
Prevention through screening and removal of precancerous polyps among key factors in saving lives
Oak Brook, Ill. – October 15, 2007 – The American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) heralds the recent news of a decline in U.S. cancer death rates, with the biggest decrease occurring in colorectal cancer deaths. ASGE, representing the specialists in colorectal cancer screening, is excited by the report showing that among the leading causes of cancer deaths – lung, prostate, breast and colorectal cancer – colorectal cancer showed the largest decline, down 4.9 percent for men and 4.5 percent for women (2002 -2004).
The study, issued by the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries, shows a drop of 2.1 percent each year between 2002 and 2004 in cancer death rates for the majority of the 15 most commonly diagnosed cancers in men and women. Previous studies showed U.S. cancer death rates decreasing an average of 1.1 percent per year from 1993 to 2002. After steadily decreasing for many years, the decline in colorectal cancer death rates has accelerated. The concurrent declines in colorectal cancer mortality and incidence are likely associated with preventing colorectal cancer through screening and removal of precancerous polyps, improving cancer outcomes by earlier stage diagnosis, reducing exposure to risk factors, and improving cancer treatment.
“This is excellent news and reinforces the importance of colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50, or even younger if there is a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps,” said Mark Pochapin, MD, spokesperson for the ASGE. “Colorectal cancer is a preventable and treatable disease when diagnosed in its early stages. Colonoscopy plays a very important role in colorectal cancer screening and prevention because it is the only method that is both diagnostic and therapeutic. Not only does colonoscopy allow us to see the entire colon, but it also allows us to remove polyps before they turn into cancer. This news is wonderful because it reaffirms that colorectal cancer screening saves lives. So don’t delay, talk to your doctor about getting screened for colorectal cancer.”
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, killing nearly 56,000 people each year. Many of those deaths could be prevented with earlier detection. The five-year relative survival rate for people whose colorectal cancer is treated in an early stage is greater than 90 percent. Unfortunately, only 39 percent of colorectal cancers are found at that early stage. Once the cancer has spread to nearby organs or lymph nodes, the five-year relative survival rate decreases dramatically.
ASGE screening guidelines recommend that, beginning at age 50, asymptomatic men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. People with risk factors, such as a family history of colon cancer, should begin at an earlier age. Patients are advised to discuss their risk factors with their physician to determine when to begin routine colorectal cancer screening and how often they should be screened.
For more information about colorectal cancer screening or to find a qualified physician, visit ASGE's colorectal cancer awareness Web site at www.screen4coloncancer.org.
About the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy
Founded in 1941, the mission of the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy is to be the leader in advancing patient care and digestive health by promoting excellence in gastrointestinal endoscopy. ASGE, with more than 10,000 physician members worldwide, promotes the highest standards for endoscopic training and practice, fosters endoscopic research, recognizes distinguished contributions to endoscopy, and is the foremost resource for endoscopic education.
Endoscopy is performed by specially-trained physicians called endoscopists using the most current technology to diagnose and treat diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Using flexible, thin tubes called endoscopes, endoscopists are able to access the human digestive tract without incisions via natural orifices. Endoscopes are designed with high-intensity lighting and fitted with precision devices that allow viewing and treatment of the gastrointestinal system. In many cases, screening or treatment of conditions can be delivered via the endoscope without the need for further sedation, treatment or hospital stay.