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January 5, 1963


JAMA. 1963;183(1):56. doi:10.1001/jama.1963.03700010096018

Cancers of the colon and rectum annually cause death of more than 30,000 persons in the United States making them by far the most frequent form of fatal malignancy. Because of this high prevalence, any diagnostic method that will contribute information about these cancer-bearing tissues must be considered noteworthy.

If malignant neoplasms are to be discovered in symptomless patients, every doctor's office must become a cancer detection center.1 With the majority of colon cancers this office detection is certainly possible; since the development of the sigmoidoscope, two thirds of all carcinomata of the colon and rectum has been subject to diagnosis in the asymptomatic state. This means that if sigmoidoscopic examination were as easy to perform and as painless as chest radiographs for tuberculosis and serological tests for syphilis, then a far higher discovery rate of early neoplasms of the lower colon would be expected.

As reported in this