Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: November 16

Briefly: African Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer at later stages and have surgery less often which contributes to their poorer survival.  Women have a greater risk of a missed or early colorectal cancer after a negative colonoscopy.

If you can’t have a loved one with you during a painful procedure, just looking at your partner’s picture may make it hurt less.

The American Society for Radiation Oncology has a new website for patients, and open enrollment for Medicare plan coverage begins on November 15 and extends through the end of the year.

Research News

  • African Americans were more likely to die of colorectal cancer in a study of over 13,000 patients.  They were more likely to have stage IV disease when diagnosed and less likely to have surgery.   But after late stage and lack of surgery were taken into account, racial differences in survival disappeared.  Writing in the November 2009 issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, Dr. Timothy L. Fitzgerald and team said, These data suggest that improvements in screening and rates of operation may reduce differences in colorectal cancer outcomes between African-American and Caucasian patients.”
  • Canadian women were more likely than men to be diagnosed with an early colorectal cancer in the three years after a negative colonoscopy.  Researchers in Manitoba studied billing records for nearly 46,000 patients who had a clear colonoscopy and found that women with a negative colonoscopy were about as likely as women in the general population to develop colon cancer during the first three years after their test.  Then their risk dropped to about 40 to 50 percent lower.  The men’s  risk was 40 to 50 percent lower throughout the follow-up period.  Older women and those whose colonoscopy wasn’t done by a gastroenterologist were the most likely to have a missed or early colorectal cancer.   Harminder Singh MD, MPH and his team at the University of Manitoba reported their results in the American Journal of Gastroenterology online November 10, 2009.
  • Looking at the picture of a loved one or holding your boyfriend’s hand reduces painful feelings, according to a study done by psychologists at UCLA. Women reported less pain when heat was applied to their forearm if they were holding their partner’s hand rather than a stranger’s hand or a ball during the experiment.  Just looking at a picture of their loved one also reduced the amount of pain they said they had.  Sarah Master PhD led the study.

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  1. Linda Mikel says

    How high can the CEA numbers go up when a patient is not responding to chemotheraphy treatment? Were are the numbers usually when a patient is near death?

  2. Robin says

    My CEA blood test was 1.95 when I went in to surgery to have a eight inch cancerous tumor removed. After surgery and during a short bout of chemo my CEA blood test was 2.50. Now six months later it is 1.30. I don’t believe how the CEA test is an accurate indicator that cancer is there. (At age 50 I had my first colonsocopy as a routine wellness visit. Eighteen months later I had Stage IIA colon cancer having 10″ of my sigmond colon removed). The five to ten year follow up colonoscopy should not be given as a general rule of thumb. If I had waited even six more months, I shudder to think what my cancer stage would have been! I thought my symptoms were a result of something I had eaten! Not until I noticed blood in my stools did I go in to see my gastrologist. I never had a gastrolgist before my 50 year old check! I am not aware of any colon cancer in my family.

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