Study finds virtual colonoscopy as effective as traditional method

In collaboration with the Press Association

Virtual colonoscopies, which use scanners to generate a three-dimensional image of the intestinal wall, are as effective as traditional colonoscopies at detecting advanced polyps - the growths in the bowel that may lead to cancer. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine describes how researchers at the University of Wisconsin Medical School compared the two methods. Virtual colonoscopies were carried out on 3,120 adults with an average age of 57, while tradional colonoscopies were used on 3,163 people with an average age of 58. The study revealed that virtual colonoscopies located almost the same number of advanced polyps as traditional procedures, with 123 and 121 detected respectively. In the US, colon cancer kills more than 50,000 people a year and routine traditional colonoscopies are recommended to patients aged over 50 to detect intestinal polyps so they can be removed to prevent the development of cancer. Dr Len Lichtenfeld, in his blog posted on the American Cancer Society website, commented: "When it comes to colorectal cancer, we simply don't do a great job of screening for the disease. "Colorectal cancer is a topic that people don't normally want to talk about, yet the potential for reducing deaths from this cancer has been estimated in the tens of thousands each year - if we only did what we already know."

Read the abstract online

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