Colon cancer avoided through colonoscopy

Thanks to the early cancer screening programs for colorectal cancer, around 100,000 cases of colorectal cancer have been prevented and a further almost 50,000 cases in a curable stage have been discovered.

In October 2002, colonoscopy (colonoscopy) became part of the German statutory cancer screening program. Since then, every insured person has had a test for occult blood in their stool from the age of 50 and from the age of 55, the insured person is entitled to a free early detection colonoscopy. If the initial examination takes place before the age of 65, the insured can have another colonoscopy performed free of charge after 10 years. The scientists from the German Cancer Research Center have examined the success of this legally regulated early detection in more detail and have now published a first interim report. Prof. Dr. med. Hermann Brenner, epidemiologist at the DKFZ, announced that, according to his calculations, 98,734 cases of colorectal cancer in people aged 55 to 84 years were prevented by participating in early detection colonoscopy throughout Germany and a further 47,168 diseases in an early, mostly curable, Germany-wide Stage were discovered.

The DKFZ scientists evaluated the data of the National Registration Register, which records all colonoscopy results, since the doctors are obliged to disclose their examination results. In this way, the DKFZ researchers were able to comprehensively record and check the findings of each individual early detection colonoscopy performed since 2002. In addition to the data on the number of participants, the age and gender-specific frequency of colorectal cancer precursors, the number of malignant tumors and the age of the deceased patients were particularly interesting with regard to the benefits of colonoscopy.

In Germany, more than 60,000 people develop colorectal cancer (colorectal cancer) every year. Colorectal cancer is the second most common form of cancer in men and women in Germany, with more than six percent of all Germans developing colon cancer in the course of their lives. Since the disease usually develops over years and only rarely causes symptoms in the patient, colon cancer is often recognized relatively late. In the late stage of the disease, however, the disease is hardly treatable or curable, so that the 5-year survival rate is only 40 to 60 percent. The decisive factor for the chances of survival for those affected is the stage at which the colon cancer was discovered. This is where the early detection program introduced since 2002 comes in, because the preliminary stages of colon cancer can be identified relatively easily with a colonoscopy and removed during the examination. Colorectal cancer can thus be "prevented far better than other types of cancer through consistent early detection," emphasized Prof. Hermann Brenner.

Overall, the DKFZ's assessment of the cancer screening program for colorectal cancer is extremely positive given the large number of diseases avoided. According to Prof. Brenner, "these great effects (...) are (are) all the more astonishing, since only about three percent of those entitled to take part in the early detection program each year". With this, the expert also points out that with a larger participation in the early detection offers, far more colon cancer cases in Germany could be prevented. According to international experience (...) the best way to increase participation is through an organized early detection program with targeted invitations, ”explained Prof. Brenner, pointing out that the first model projects were being prepared as part of the National Cancer Plan. (fp)

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