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A Colonoscopy Warning For Prostate Cancer Patients

October 25, 2010

According to a new study by gastroenterologists at the University at Buffalo indicate, men with prostate cancer should be especially diligent about having routine screening colonoscopies. The findings show that those diagnosed with prostate cancer had significantly more abnormal colon polyps, known as adenomas, and advanced adenomas than men without prostate cancer. While most adenomas are benign and don't become cancerous, there is evidence that most colon cancers begin as adenomas. Advanced adenomas carry an even higher colorectal cancer risk.

"Colon cancer and prostate cancer are two of the most common cancers in males," says Ognian Pomakov, MD, an author on the study, assistant professor in the Department of Medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and an attending gastroenterologist at the Buffalo VA Medical Center. "However there are no published clinical studies to date that determined the prevalence of colorectal neoplasms in people with prostate cancer. Our study is the first to show that men with prostate cancer are at increased risk of developing colon cancer, and that it is especially important for these men not skip their routine colonoscopies."

The study involved 2,011 men who had colonoscopies at the Buffalo VAMC. The researchers reviewed patient records, colonoscopy reports and pathology reports, as well as data on the prevalence of adenomas, advanced adenomas, cancerous adenomas and their location within the colon. The study compared the colonoscopy findings of 188 patients diagnosed with prostate cancer with the rest of the patients, who served as controls. Results showed that prostate cancer patients had significantly higher prevalence of abnormal polyps and advanced adenomas, compared to controls: 48 percent of prostate cancer patients had adenomas compared to 30.8 percent of controls, and 15.4 percent had advanced adenomas compared to 10 percent of the men without prostate cancer.

"Our study findings suggest that patients with prostate cancer should definitely get their screening colonoscopy on time," says Pomakov. "In light of the limited resources of health-care systems, a priority should be given to such patients for colonoscopy screening. Further larger, and preferably prospective, studies should determine if screening for colorectal cancer should begin earlier than the currently recommended age of 50 for patients with prostate cancer."