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This Week's Colorectal Cancer News in Brief: March 13

Stories this week:

  • Research that finds an effective prep to be sure the right side of the colon is clean for colonoscopy.
  • When doctors discuss end of issues with cancer patients, costs are reduced and quality of death improved.
  • The NCI warns of dangers of colon hydrotherapy and cannot find any evidence that is prevents colon cancer.
  • William Holman gave into his wife’s insistence that he be screened for colorectal cancer, and the test saved his life by finding an early colon cancer.  After surgery, his chances of complete recovery are high.

Brief Research Reports

  • For colonoscopy preparation Pico-Salax® the day before the procedure plus Ducolax (bisacodyl) tablets on both days before cleaned the right side of the colon more completely than either Pico-Salax alone or Fleet Phospho-Soda® (oral sodium phosphate).  All patients were encouraged to drink 3 to 4 liters of Gatorade or clear liquids. Patients tolerated both of the Pico-Salax regimens better than the oral sodium phosphate, and monitoring during the exams found them safer than oral sodium phosphate.  Pico-Salax combines a packets containing sodium picosulfate, magnesium oxide, and citric acid to form a magnesium citrate purgative. Pico-Salax is available in Canada and Europe, but not in the United States.  Oral sodium phosphate is only available by prescription in the US.  Laurence C. Hookey MD in American Journal of Gastroenterology, March 2009.
  • When doctors and cancer patients talk about care at the end of life, costs of care during the week  before death are significantly lower, deaths were easier for patients, and life was not shortened.  About one-third of 600 patients studied discussed end-of-life care with their doctors. Costs of care during the week before they died averaged $1,876 compared to $2,917 when there was no discussion.  If half of the 566,000 patients who died of cancer in 2008 had such conversations with their doctors, health care savings would reach $77 million. Acknowledging that these discussions are not easy, Dr. Holly Prigerson, one of the study authors, said, “Patients aren’t significantly more distressed after these conversations. Letting false hope persist is not really helpful.”  Baohui Zhang, MS in the Archives of Internal Medicine, March 9, 2009.

Other Headlines

  • The National Cancer Institute says that there is no evidence that colon hydrotherapy or colonics have any benefit in reducing colon cancer or preventing its return. In addition, there are significant risks of infection, electrolyte inbalance, fluid overload, and colon perforation. Studies of liquids other than water — coffee, hydrogen peroxide — have found serious injuries. NCI Cancer Bulletin, March 10,2009.
  • Because his wife nagged at him for three months, William Holman, 52, of Stamford, Connecticut finally made an appointment for a colonoscopy.  He felt fine, but agreed to go ahead with the test because his wife asked him to.  His exam found a cancerous polyp.  Because it was found so early, he has an almost 100 percent chance of complete recovery.  His surgeon, Dr. Richard Scheinbaum at Stamford Hospital, said, “He’s the poster child of why anyone should get tested” saying that if he waited until the cancer had spread, his chances of survival would have been much slimmer.  Article by Lauren Mylo in The Hour, March 10, 2009.

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