Logically, it would seem that more follow-up testing of cancer patients must be better than less – but this is not the case for patients who undergo surgery for colorectal cancer.
This is an important conclusion from a study where 2,509 patients with colorectal cancer were offered two and five follow-up tests in the form of CT scans combined with a blood test spread over the first three years after the operation. The results have just been published in the scientific journal JAMA.
In some cases, the extra scans meant that a cancer relapse was discovered earlier, but this did not increase the chances of the patients surviving the first five years. And this is despite the fact that all of the test subjects were referred for further examination at specialist departments following the slightest suspicion that the cancer had returned.
The futile extra scans should be compared to the fact that many countries have actually increased the amount of follow-up testing in the belief that more testing improves survival.
“The three extra scans don’t achieve anything. Twenty per cent of the patients experience relapses, and approximately eleven per cent die within the first five years due to the
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