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Colonoscopy not harmless

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By Jimmy Downs

Sunday March 3, 2013 (foodconsumer.org) -- A new study recently published in the journal Digestive and Liver Disease suggests that the side effects and adverse effects associated with colonoscopy in a real world colorectal cancer screening program with faecal occult blood test are more frequent than estimated earlier.

Bernard Denis from Department of Gastroenterology, Pasteur Hospital in Colmar, France and colleagues conducted the study and 2.4 percent patients who recieved colonoscopy based colorectal cancer screening experienced adverse events. Of this 2.4%, about 1% were serious adverse events.
The retrospective cohort study was based on all coloscopies performed in individuas aged 50 to 74 with a positive faecal occult blood test between Spet 2003 and Feb 2010 in Alsace, France.  Colonoscopy is a diagnostic commonly used to diagnose colorectal cancer.

The researchers found that of 10,277 colonoscopies performed, 250 adverse events were recorded with 48 being moderate or severe including 10 perforations and 31 bleeding. Of moderate and severe adverse events, 91.7% resulted from a therapeutic procedure.

Not all adverse events were preventable.  Of 103 serious adverse events, eight were considered preventable.

The researchers concluded "The harms of colonoscopy were underestimated in all randomized controlled trials on colorectal cancer screening with faecal occult blood test. They are greater in a real world programme, estimated at 7.5 major and 100 minor adverse events per 1000 colonoscopies."

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