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Annu Rev Med. 1998;49:163-72.

How to screen for colon cancer.

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Gastroenterology Section, Portland Veterans Administration Medical Center, Oregon 97207, USA.


The biology of colorectal cancer provides a unique opportunity for early detection and prevention. There is now evidence that screening of asymptomatic average-risk individuals over 50 years of age can reduce mortality resulting from colorectal cancer. New recommendations from the US Preventive Services Task Force endorse screening with fecal occult blood tests or sigmoidoscopy. The best method for population screening remains uncertain. The cost of screening is an important issue in the development of public policy. This review discusses the various screening options, examines the "downstream" effects of screening, and reviews the anticipated costs and effectiveness. Ultimately, the effectiveness of any screening program depends on patient compliance. Further research is needed to determine the best methods of enhancing patient adherence to a screening program.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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