Promising results for colon cancer screening
Almost 400 people were diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage in a Norwegian pilot project. Soon screening will be available for everyone in Norway.
140.000 people have taken part in the pilot project since its inception i 2012. Fecal samples were used to screen for cancer. If there were traces of invisible blood in the feces, the patients were offered a colonoscopy.
More than 500 of the people that took part in the project, were diagnosed with cancer. 400 of them had cancer in an early stage. That gave them a good chance of recovering with mild and effective treatment. 4.000 people also had polyps removed, that may develop into colon cancer if left untreated.
"All the polyps we've uncovered wouldn't have turned out to be malign, so we don't know exactly how many cases of cancer we've prevented. But the participants will receive follow-ups for the next 10 to 15 years, so we can monitor the prevalence and eventual deaths from colon cancer in the long run," says researcher Anna Lisa Schult at the Cancer Registry of Norway. She is one of the researchers behind the new article, published in the scientific journal Gastroenterology.
Soon every Norwegian between the age of 55 and 65 will be able to have a fecal sample screened every other year. They will also be offered a colonoscopy. The screening programme will be rolled out gradually, and is contingent on the hospitals having enough capacity and resources to follow through, according to the Cancer Registry of Norway.
Norway is one of the countries with the highest prevalence of colon cancer. Every day ten Norwegians are diagnosed with this type of cancer, according to the Cancer Registry of Norway. Patients seldom have symptoms at an early stage. This leads to the cancer going undiscovered for far too long.