HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, routine colonoscopies may not provide much colorectal cancer (CRC) prevention benefit after the age of 75.

Xabier Garcia-Albeniz, MD, PhD, a research associate at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, and colleagues conducted a review of 1,355,692 Medicare patients aged 70 to 79.

The team found that screening colonoscopy was associated with a modestly reduced CRC risk over 8 years, from 2.62 to 2.19%, in those younger than 75. 

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But it had little or no effect on cancer risk among patients over 75 (2.84% in the colonoscopy group versus 2.97% in the no-screening group).

The excess 30-day risk for any adverse event with colonoscopy was 5.6 events per 1000 individuals for those 70 to 74 years old and 10.3 per 1000 for those 75 to 79 years old.

“Our findings suggest a modest benefit of screening colonoscopy for preventing CRC in persons aged 70 to 74 years and a smaller (if any) benefit in those who are older. The risk for adverse events was low in both age groups,” the authors write. “Our findings may help patients, physicians and policymakers make informed decisions about CRC screening.”


García-Albéniz X, et al. “Effectiveness Of Screening Colonoscopy To Prevent Colorectal Cancer Among Medicare Beneficiaries Aged 70 To 79 Years”. Annals of Internal Medicine. 2016 September 27. doi:10.7326/M16-0758. [Epub ahead of print]

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