Pros and cons of screening
The aim of the screening program is to reduce the risk of dying from colon cancer. This can be done by detecting the cancer so early that it is still possible to cure it. In ColorectalScreen Norway the screening method involves looking for blood in the stool.
The figure below shows what happens to 1,000 screening participants who submit a stool sample for analysis.
Pros of colorectal screening
- Reduced Mortality: We don't have reliable numbers for the effect of colorectal screening in Norway. We assume that the risk of dying from colorectal cancer is reduced by at least 25% if you get screened. This means that out of 1000 55-year-olds, 3-4 would die from colon cancer in 10 years without participation in the screening program. Statistically, one of these 1000 people may avoid dying from colon cancer by participating in ColorectalScreen Norway.
- Early detection: Cancer screening helps find cancer at an earlier stage. This makes it easier to treat the cancer and for many people the treatment and recovery will be less extensive.
Cons of colorectal screening
- No guarantee against cancer: Not all tumors or polyps will be found by screening. Participating in the program is therefore no guarantee against getting colorectal cancer later in life.
- Distress: Taking the actual stool sample at home is completely harmless. However, some may feel nervousness or distress while waiting for the results of the stool test or an appointment for a colonoscopy.
- Pain: One in four experience pain during the colonoscopy. If you feel you need medicines for pain relief, this will be provided.
- Complications: Colonoscopy and removal of polyps involve a risk of complications. In about 1-7 out of 1000 colonoscopies, complications such as bleeding or a hole in the intestine may occur.
- Overtreatment: Screening can detect cancer and polyps that would not have caused any health problems for you during your lifetime. By participating in the program, you may therefore receive treatment that you may not need.