Study: some older patients not good candidates for colon cancer screening

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Older patients with various other chronic illnesses causing limited life expectancy might not be good candidates for colorectal cancer screening, according to a report published this month in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Reuter Health reports. The study performed by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine looked at 35,755 patients at least 67 years of age and were diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1993 and 1999. "It is important to identify the patients who are most likely to benefit from screening… colorectal cancer screening is not without risks and costs, the findings suggest that physicians should use age and chronic illness burden to identify such patients," the authors wrote. Findings showed that male patients 67 years old with early-stage colorectal cancer had a life expectancy of 19.1 years if they had no chronic conditions. The expectancy dropped from to 12.4 years if one or two other conditions were present, and 7.6 years with three or more conditions, Reuters said. Women were shown to have life expectancies of 23, 16, and 7 years, respectively. Following cancer diagnosis, life expectancy decreased corresponding to age. Following diagnosis, men and women of at least 81 years of age with no chronic illness had life expectancies of 10.3 and 13.8 years, Reuters reports.