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Health Agencies Update
October 18, 2000

Colon Cancer Screening

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JAMA. 2000;284(15):1915. doi:10.1001/jama.284.15.1915-JHA00010-4-1

Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and an annual stool blood test are the most cost-effective strategies for colon cancer screening in asymptomatic adults aged 50 to 85 years, according to a new study funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and published in the Summer 2000 issue of the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care.

The researchers compared the cost-effectiveness of eight strategies based on 1997 guidelines from the American Gastroenterological Association. The other strategies considered (in order of declining cost-effectiveness) were sigmoidoscopy every 3 years, double-contrast barium enema every 5 years, colonoscopy (inherently the most effective strategy) every 10 years, annual stool blood testing plus sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, annual stool blood testing plus sigmoidoscopy every 3 years, and colonoscopy every 5 years.