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Read Original Story

Should belly fat prompt early colon cancer screens?

Rating

4 Star

Should belly fat prompt early colon cancer screens?

Our Review Summary

This story outlines both the potential benefits and drawbacks of screening clearly and concisely. It quotes several independent experts who provide valuable perspectives for the reader. The story could have been improved by mentioning that this study was simply observational and not a randomised clinical trial and by discussing the costs of screening colonoscopy. The cost of screening a younger population will most likely be higher given that more people would need to be screened to find one case of cancer.

 

Why This Matters

Overweight and obesity is associated with an increased risk for colon cancer. Recent research suggests that abodominal fat in particular may increase colon cancer risk – http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/obesity#r4. However, in the absence of clinical trials, no public health officials have recommended that those with increased abdominal fat undergo more vigorous (or earlier) screening for colon cancer. Indeed, colon cancer screening experts, reacting to the results of a new study showing that more polyps were found on colonoscopy in younger participants with bigger waistlines, are quite skeptical about expanding screening to this group. When gastroentorologists and advocacy groups like the American Cancer Society do not support increased screening, it is clear that the potential risks of screening do not outweigh benefits and more research is needed.

Criteria

Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Satisfactory

The story does not mention costs of screening colonoscopy. Costs of screening a younger population is especially important given that more people would need to be screened to find one case of cancer.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

The story quantifies the number of people who would need to be screened in order to find one late-stage polyp (and is clear to point out that they may or may not develop into cancer).

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?

Satisfactory

The story mentions potential harms of colonoscopy, such as bleeding and perforation.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story should have mentioned that this study was observational in nature and therefore has a set of inherent limitations. That the study was from a single area in Korea also limits the applicability of the results to other populations.

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Satisfactory

The story does not exaggerate the seriousness or prevalence of polyps or colon cancer. The story clearly states that most polyps do not develop into cancer.

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Satisfactory

The story quotes several independent experts who provide very valuable perspectives.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?

Satisfactory

The story very briefly mentions one alternative to colonoscopy, the stool test for blood. While this is the most widely-available alternative, there are other alternatives, including CT Colography, sigmoidoscopy, barium enema, and the choice to not have screening at all.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Satisfactory

Clearly colon cancer screening is available.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?

Satisfactory

Clearly screening colonoscopy is not new, however screening younger people who are overweight is a new idea.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?

Satisfactory

Because the story quotes several independent sources, the reader can assume that the story does not rely on a press release as the sole source of information.

Total Score: 8 of 10 Satisfactory

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