The findings support the current guidelines in place that recommend regular colonoscopy screenings every ten years for men, while more frequent screenings are advised if there is a family history of bowel, or colorectal cancer.
“Our study provides strong evidence that colonoscopy is an effective technique for preventing cancers of both distal and proximal regions of the colorectum, while sigmoidoscopy alone is insufficient for preventing proximal cancer,” said Shuji Ogino, co-senior author and associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at HSPH.
The researchers surveyed 88,902 participants as part of two long-term studies where they were asked to fill out questionnaires every two years between 1988 and 2008. Researchers also obtained information on colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy procedures during this time, reporting 1,815 cases of bowel cancer and 474 deaths from the disease during this time. Sigmoidoscopy refers to when tumors are screened in the rectum or lower bowel region.
The team found that both these screening processes were linked to a decreased risk of bowel cancer and bowel-cancer related deaths.
The study serves to support the significance of the at times uncomfortable or embarrassing colonoscopy screenings in reducing the incidence of bowel cancer-related mortalities.