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#Time4Change: Germany

Published on 09 March 2018  | Download | back to previous

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Every year, more than 60,000 people in Germany are diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Screening – which was introduced in 2002 for those 55 and over – is starting to work. Within 10 years of the introduction of screening colonoscopy in Germany, the incidence in persons over age 55 fell by 17–26%, after having risen steadily over the preceding decades.1

Some are suggesting that the focus should also move to younger people. As many as 15 percent of colorectal cancer cases occur below the age of 50. Many people in younger age brackets are mistakenly treated for hemorrhoids.

Improving screening rates even further by targeting hereditary risk

One area of focus to help diagnose more people at a younger age, is family history.

A study in German GP practices showed that a physician only has to question 14 patients aged between 40 and 54 years with a standardised questionnaire in order to identify a patient who has at least one family member with colorectal cancer.

The guidelines state that if there is a hereditary risk, then an endoscopic examination should be performed regularly from the age of 25. But people are not regularly asked about family history of colorectal cancer, so this recommendation is relatively obsolete. Further research is being done in Germany on this topic, to potentially encourage further examination of family history and subsequent testing. Given that colorectal cancer is one of the only cancers that can be prevented through screening, this is a potential solution for limiting the impact of colorectal cancer.



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