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Headlines are misleading. Colorectal cancer screening saves lives!


You may have recently read or heard that a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine showed that colonoscopy does not reduce colorectal cancer very much and does not reduce death from colorectal cancer.

Not exactly.

As with many things, the details matter. Those details show a very different picture than the headlines suggest.



  • 85,000 people living in four countries in Europe
  • One-third received a letter inviting them to have a colonoscopy, the others received no colorectal cancer screening
  • Ten years later, colon cancer risk was 18% less in the invited group and there was no difference in colorectal cancer deaths between the groups. This is the typical headline
  • But… many important details were left out



  • Less than half (42%) of those invited to have a colonoscopy actually had one
  • In those who actually had a colonoscopy:
    • The risk of developing colorectal cancer decreased by 31%
    • The risk of dying from colorectal cancer decreased by 50%



This study, along with prior studies, shows that colonoscopy decreases your chances of getting and dying from colorectal cancer. Getting sick and dying from colorectal cancer – especially due to delayed screening – is real. Screening with colonoscopy saves lives.


For more information, check out the topics on Colonoscopy and Colorectal Cancer: