Promising colonoscopy data meets Sesame Street’s Ernie

Germany was one of the first countries worldwide to introduce colonoscopy as part of its national statutory cancer screening program back in 2002. Researchers now have comprehensive data looking at how effective the screenings were in a study examing 4.4 million screening colonoscopies conducted between 2003 and 2012 – the most comprehensive evaluation to date, […]

Germany was one of the first countries worldwide to introduce colonoscopy as part of its national statutory cancer screening program back in 2002.

Researchers now have comprehensive data looking at how effective the screenings were in a study examing 4.4 million screening colonoscopies conducted between 2003 and 2012 – the most comprehensive evaluation to date, according to study head Prof. Hermann Brenner from the German Cancer Research Center (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, DKFZ).

Within the first ten years of screenings, 180,000 precancerous lesions were discovered and immediately removed during the examination. Also, physicians found over 40,000 cases of early-stage colorectal cancer. In this phase the disease is still curable in most cases.

Dr. Michael Hoffmeister, one of the authors of the publication, explains more details about their findings:

“In about one out of 28 colonoscopy examinations, a physician finds a precancerous lesion and thus prevents a cancer case. In one out of 121 examinations, doctors detect a malignant tumor early on. But only one out of 1,089 examinations leads to an over-diagnosis. In participants under 75 years of age, only 0.4 percent of gastrointestinal endoscopic exams result in an over-diagnosis. This means that colonoscopy screening produces significantly better results than other cancer screening programs. Mammography, for example, has a much higher over-diagnosis rate.”

“In the long term, colonoscopy will lower colorectal cancer mortality,” said Brenner. “Moreover, endoscopic screening is a real means of prevention. As opposed to other screening programs, it will also significantly lower the incidence of new cancer cases.”

On that note, and a perfectly reasonable transition, Sesame Street is celebrating its 45th year on the air. You know what that means: Ernie gets a colonoscopy courtesy of none other than Conan O’brien and friends:

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[Photo from flickr user Daniel Spiess]