This study shows how to predict colon cancer risk in healthy people

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and the second most lethal cancer in the U.S.

In a recent study at Regenstrief Institute and Indiana University, researchers developed one of the first U.S.-based models to predict risk for precancerous polyps and colon cancer in healthy people.

The new model could help determine whether an at-home stool test would be a good screening option or a colonoscopy is the most appropriate option.

The study is published in BMJ. One author is Thomas Imperiale, M.D.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are hesitant to visit medical facilities and healthcare resources are stretched.

Studies have shown that giving individuals a choice increases screening uptake as many people look for alternatives to colonoscopy.

Personalized risk-based tailoring of colorectal screening is commonly recommended but not generally used.

In the study, the new predictive model for average-risk individuals considers age, sex, lifestyle, diet, smoking history, and eight other factors.

The team developed and validated the tool evaluated 4,500 people ages 50 to 80 who had not had a previous colonoscopy and identified lower risk and higher risk groups among these people.

About a quarter of participants in the study were found to be at 2% risk, which is considered low risk.

Approximately 60% were found to be medium risk, reflective of truer “average risk.” About 10% were deemed high risk for which a screening colonoscopy is appropriate.

The team says the importance of colorectal cancer screening cannot be overstated.

Particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, people are less willing to consider screening colonoscopies.

Having an accurate risk assessment tool to determine for whom other options are perfectly good and letting them know which options are suitable is essential.

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