Conducting colonoscopies for people in their mid 50s can save money, according to research presented at the 2008 American College of Gastroenterology meeting in Orlando, Fla. The savings averages $2 for every dollar spent, the study found.
Jianjun Li, MD, and colleagues at New York’s Maimonides Medical Center reported results of a study involving free screening colonoscopies for 248 consecutive patients (average age of 55). Nearly 45% had polyps. Follow-up testing demonstrated that fi ve individuals had early-stage colon cancer, and 22 had polyps larger than 1 cm.
The screening program cost $390,000. If colon cancer treatment had been delayed until the Medicare eligibility age of 65, the cost would have been nearly $1.3 million, Dr. Li said. If these patients had not been screened, their disease would have progressed undetected, said Judy Yee, MD, vice chair of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco. As people grow older, their risk of developing polyps increases, she said.