A large very number of colonoscopies are performed yearly in the U.S. for cancer screening. For older male non-smokers, colonic cancer ranks with prostate cancer as a major cancer threat (see: Men and Cancer Risk). Here are some specific numbers about the frequency of gastroentestinal endoscopy (see: $4.4 Billion Gastrointestinal Endoscopic Market in the U.S. and Europe Projected for 2020):
Gastrointestinal endoscopy is one of the most widely performed medical procedures in the world. It is projected that there will be over 75 million gastrointestinal endoscopic procedures performed in the U.S. and Europe combined by 2020. The majority of these procedures are colon cancer screenings, the removal of gastrointestinal tract abnormalities, as well as the placement and replacement of enteral feeding. Recent positive publicity for virtual colonoscopy will act as a market driver, likely at the expense of conventional colonoscopy revenues.
I have suspected that virtual colonoscopies would replace many of the current GI endoscopic procedures at some point but there continue to be definite limitations to the growth of this procedure (see: Virtual Colonoscopy):
[V]irtual colonoscopy may not be as effective as colonoscopy at finding certain polyps. Also, doctors cannot remove polyps or treat certain other problems during virtual colonoscopy, as they can during colonoscopy. Your health insurance coverage for virtual colonoscopy and colonoscopy also may be different. Virtual colonoscopy may not be as effective as colonoscopy at finding certain polyps. Also, doctors cannot remove polyps or treat certain other problems during virtual colonoscopy, as they can during colonoscopy.
The Dark Daily posted a recent article on the consumer-driven market for self-testing kits in which they made mention of the immunochemical FIT screening test for colonic cancer. Below is an excerpt from it (see: Consumers Increasingly Purchase Medical Laboratory Self-Test Kits)
Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (see: Fecal Immunochemical Test Program Performance Over 4 Rounds of Annual Screening: A Retrospective Cohort Study) suggests that one of the most common at-home tests—the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for colon cancer screening—is an effective and suitable alternative to invasive colonoscopy.....Researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern and Southern California involved 323,349 health plan members in the first of four rounds of FIT. FIT screening detected about 85% of colon cancer cases in the first round and 73 to 78% of cases in follow-up rounds, the study noted. The researchers found that FIT was “highly sensitive for detecting” colon cancer, and that people were more likely to participate, as compared to colonoscopy,,,,
The FIT test uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool and can be performed at home. The test does not require special preparation or medication restrictions and is superior to the use of the fecal occult blood test (FOBT).The guaiac-based FOBT tests have a risk of false positive results related to both red meat consumption and the use of certain medications around the time of sample collection. The FIT test is available on the web at a cost of $29.99 for a two-pack. The test is suitable for home testing and is another example of consumer-driven self-testing (see: Home Colorectal Cancer Test - 2 Pack). Some consumers have an aversion to the stool sample collection required for the at-home FIT but I think that's it's far easier, less expensive, and safer than a colonoscopy.