A recent study has revealed that removing precancerous polyps during colonoscopies can cut the risk of death from colorectal cancer by 50%.
It can take years for a tiny precancerous polyp, known as adenoma, to grow large and become malignant, asserted Dr. William Katkov, a gastroenterologist at Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that most people start getting regular colonoscopies at the age of 50, English.news.cn reported.
Those suffering changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool or anaemia may need to start off with the screening even sooner, Katkov said.
Scientists have advised screening for people at 50 to 75 years but they often find the tests unpleasant.
"This study is showing both a reduction in colon cancer incidence and colon cancer deaths by removing the adenomas, and it's a long-term effect," said Ann Zauber of the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, chief author of the long-term evaluation of polyp removal in a telephone interview.
"This is reassuring for people to come in for screening," Zauber added.
The study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.