Colonoscopy could be costeffectiveonly in middle age

December 1, 2008

New evidence suggests conducting screening colonoscopies for people in their mid- 50s saves money. But other evidence indicates there may be an upper age limit for the benefits of such screening.

New evidence suggests conducting screening colonoscopies for people in their mid- 50s saves money. But other evidence indicates there may be an upper age limit for the benefits of such screening.

Dr. Jianjun Li and colleagues from Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn conducted free screening colonoscopies for 248 consecutive patients with a mean age of 55. Follow-up detected colon cancer and large polyps in about one in 10.The screening program cost $390,000. Had these patients not been screened, their delayed treatment would have cost Medicare nearly $1.3 million. Li released results at the 2008 American College of Gastroenterology meeting.

On the other hand, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel of the Department of Health and Human Services, recommended that screening cease when men reach age 75, when the possible harm from screening outweighs its benefits. The task force report was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2008;149[3]: 185-191).