Study: Colonoscopy by Non-Gastroenterologists at Higher Risk for Colorectal Cancer

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Patients who have a colonoscopy performed by a non-gastroenterologist have a much greater risk of missing something that could later on develop into colorectal cancer, reported.

The study, published in the journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute, said that even if an individual has a colonoscopy that turns out negative, they could still be developing colon cancer if the test was not done properly.

"For this reason, having extensive formal training matters, especially when procedures are more challenging to perform,” said Dr. Linda Rabeneck of the University of Toronto and lead author of the study. “We found that among those physicians who perform colonoscopies in the hospital setting, gastroenterologists are more proficient at colonoscopy than other physicians, including general surgeons,” she said.

According to the AGA, colonoscopies are considered to be the best way to detect colon cancer and adenomas, which are tumors that develop in the colon. Colorectal cancer has the third highest mortality rate of all cancers, and is also one of the most preventable when detected early.

In the study, doctors followed 110,402 Canadian patients, ranging from 50 to 80 years of age, who had previously had a negative colonoscopy. During the 15-year follow-up period, those who had colonoscopies performed by a doctor other than a licensed gastroenterologist, such as a general surgeon or family physician, had a significant increase in their risk for developing colon cancer.

The findings confirm that endoscopist training is essential in performing an effective colonoscopy.

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