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ACG Responds to Canadian Colonoscopy Study

Even if the reduction in deaths from colorectal cancer proves to be lower than previously expected, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) says that quality colonoscopy is still the best strategy for the detection of polyps and cancer.

In response to the Canadian study of colorectal cancer deaths after previous colonoscopy led by Nancy Baxter, M.D. and published on December 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the ACG wrote,

Physician experts from the American College of Gastroenterology urge patients and the public to recognize that even if the assumptions and design of this case-control study have produced accurate data, colonoscopy remains the best available option for detection of precancerous colon polyps and the only test with the potential to prevent colorectal cancer by removing these growths.

Dr. Eamonn Quigley, ACG President, said,

While colonoscopy is not perfect, the physicians at the American College of Gastroenterology are committed to making a good test even better and patients can take steps to maximize the colonoscopy’s potential.

According to Dr. Quigley, patients can increase chances that colonoscopy will be most effective by

  • Choosing a well-trained doctor to perform the exam who does many colonoscopies and has a good record of reaching the cecum.  Gastroenterologists have special training in colonoscopies and perform more colonoscopies than any other specialty.
  • Following the doctor’s instructions on bowel cleansing before the test.  “The cleanest colon results in the best exam,” Dr. Quigley says.

The ACG will soon be publishing a guideline calling for “split preps” where laxatives are taken in two doses resulting in better cleansing.

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