Study results from the Northern-European Initiative (NEI) on Colorectal Cancer (NordICC) trial, which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) on Sunday, October 9th, fueled a lot of debate among physicians and patients about the benefits of colonoscopies in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.
Some attention-grabbing headlines, appearing in the days following the study’s release, caused a lot of confusion about the research findings. This is because the research article reported that colonoscopy led to a reduction in CRC risk of only 18% over 10 years for those in the study cohort who were invited for a screening colonoscopy, not for those in the study cohort who had a screening colonoscopy.1 Of the more than 28,000 people invited to undergo a screening colonoscopy, only about 12,000, or 42%, had one. The study finds that those who were invited for and had a screening colonoscopy saw a reduction in CRC incidence by 31% and death by 50%, respectively, rates that are like those in other studies, according to an NEJM editorial accompanying the published study results.2
Gastroenterologists and gastroenterology societies responded swiftly and unequivocally to the media coverage. Their response: having a colonoscopy performed according to clinical guidelines remains the recommended screening method for CRC.3 Colonoscopies can detect and prevent disease because the detection and removal of polyps prevents future cancers.4
Click the links below to view the specific responses from several GI societies: