Everybody Get A Colonoscopy - NOT!


"Newsflash - We have a new highly specific fecal test for colon cancer. Easy to use and no diet or medication restrictions. It’s called OC Lite. Call me and I’ll send you one.


Let’s answer the question of whether or not to get a colonoscopy by looking at the numbers. The tables on this page contain information about three common cancers for which we have screening tools like colonoscopy. Please put on your health math hat and we’ll walk through the data.


The data source for these tables comes from the Montana Central Tumor Registry, Department of Public Health and Human Services, PO Box 202952, Helena, MT, 59620, April 18, 2013.


Colorectal Cancer

The yearly totals are for men and women. In women there are roughly 20 cases per year per 100,000. Should we do 100,000 colonoscopies to find these 20? Not really, because unlike breast cancer, we can profile likelihood. This cancer is more common if you have a first degree relative with colon or intestinal cancer, or ulcerative colitis, or if you are diabetic, or if you are obese, or if you have 2 or more alcoholic drinks per day, or if you smoke. A colonoscopy is needed if you fall into one of these risk groups. Otherwise, a yearly fecal screen does the job quite nicely.


Click on any of the tables on this page to reveal a larger version.

Other cancers of interest for which we have screening.


See the tables below. One deals with Breast Cancer statistics and the other deals with Cervical Cancer statistics.  Clicking on them will bring up a larger version for you to view.  These cancer statistics are reported as rates - usually number of cases/100,000 people. These tables are also banded by age.



Female Breast Cancer

Looking at age bands 30-85+ years, you can see this is always an issue. Screening is important. However, see the article in this web site’s link Health News Corner titled, Mammography's Importance Overplayed.

Cervical Cancer

This cancer is a young woman’s disease. No more PAPS after age 50! (With rare exceptions.)

© Copyright 2013 - 2018 by Pat Hennessy MD MPH                                                                                                                                                                Design by Victoria Young Maciulski