This Week’s Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: March 7

This first week of Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, we report on the effect of seeking health information on patients knowing about and using targeted therapies and the use of warm water to allow comfortable colonoscopies without sedation.

A new website for cancer patients is available at the University of Iowa, alfalfa sprouts are behind an outbreak of salmonella saint paul in Nebraska, and Avastin has been approved for coverage for colorectal cancer in Alberta.

Brief Research Reports

  • Patients who spend time looking for health information were more likely to know about targeted colorectal cancer treatments Avastin® (bevacizumab) and Erbitux® (cetuximab) and were also treated with them three times more often.  This was true for both advanced disease for which the targeted treatments were FDA approved and for earlier stages for which they were not approved.  Use of the Internet tripled  likelihood that a patient would hear about the targeted treatments, reading books or magazines more than tripled the chances.  Seeking information from a doctor who was not treating them doubled chances they would hear about Avastin or Erbitux and increased odds of being treated with them two and a half times.  Stacy W. Gray MD in  Cancer, online February 23, 2009.
  • Using warm water,instead of air, to expand the colon during a colonoscopy reduces the need for sedation during the test and lets doctors finish a complete exam. Gastroenterologists at a Veterans Affairs ambulatory center in California compared unsedated colonoscopy with air to similar exams using warm water.  They were able to reach the cecum, a sign of a complete exam, in 90 percent of the warm water studies compared to only 76 percent of the colonoscopies that used air.  Nine out of ten men who had a water test said that they would be willing to have another colonoscopy without sedation, compared to only seven of ten who would repeat the exam when air was used.  Felix W. Leung MD, in GIE Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, March 2009.

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