The controversial sides of cancer screening

Any time I comment on cancer screening, I get a great deal of feedback from readers. My recent Daily Dispatches on mammograms are one example. I received several responses–as well as a few e-mails–from fortunate women who are personally convinced they survived breast cancer because they got a mammogram. And I truly appreciate hearing these success stories.

However, these individual anecdotes do not change the scientific evidence. Routine mammograms simply don’t offer superior results for screening when applied indiscriminately among all women in the population. Especially when weighed against all the dangers.

And then, there are my long-held concerns about colon cancer screening. As I’ve said before, colonoscopy is a hyped-up, dangerous, and costly procedure that is over-sold and over-prescribed. But every time I assert my position on this topic–no matter how much solid, incontrovertible research I present–I get a flurry of e-mails from concerned readers. Many of them wonder how on earth I could discourage people from getting screened for a potentially deadly disease

But let me be clear: I unfailingly do recommend regular screenings for colorectal cancer.

In fact, most people should have their first colon cancer screening test at age 50. And if you have a family history or other risk factors, you should start earlier. You should just make sure to skip the colonoscopy. And choose one of the three safe and affordable alternative colon cancer screening tests.

The word is finally starting to get out about these alternatives. In fact, my new insurance plan recently sent me information about alternative screenings for colon cancer. Of course, since they would have to help pay for the costly colonoscopies, it’s also good business for them. (And, believe me, business is booming. I just got a shocking, new, 15 percent higher bill in the mail. They told me my rate went up to comply with Obama’s “Affordable” Care Act–when we had a perfectly good plan that we “liked” and wanted to “keep” in the first place. How ironic!)

Bottom line?

Colonoscopy isn’t your only option. No study has found that it works any better than these other screening tests.

Colon cancer isn’t something to take lightly–and neither is screening for it. So make sure you know about ALL your options. I’ll tell you more about them in the upcoming June issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter. (If you’re not already a subscriber, visit the subscriber section to sign up today.)

And in the meantime, you can read more about the risks associated with colonoscopy in the September 2013 issue of Insiders’ Cures.