Overall, colorectal cancer deaths were reduced 26 percent and new cases were reduced 21 percent as a result of screening with sigmoidoscopy, according to findings of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial.
The results appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine.
As part of the trial, 154,900 men and women ages 55-74 were randomly assigned to receive flexible sigmoidoscopy screening or usual care between 1993 and 2001. Those participants receiving usual care were screened only if they asked for the screening or if their physician recommended it. Members of the flexible sigmoidoscopy screening group were screened upon entering the study and again three to five years later. All participants were followed for approximately 12 years.
UAB was one of 10 sites to participate in the trial. It enrolled more than 6,000 participants.
"This trial allowed us to identify an evidence-based screening tool other than colonoscopy to reduce the number of new cases and deaths from colorectal cancer," said Mona Fouad, MD, MPH, principal investigator of the UAB PLCO site, director of the UAB Division of Preventive Medicine and co-leader of the cancer control and populations sciences program at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center, in the release. "This finding is important because not all individuals have access to colonoscopy, which is more expensive and has to be performed by specialty physicians."