(HealthDay News) — Patients identified with colon cancer through screening colonoscopies have both lower-stage disease on presentation and also better outcomes independent of their staging, according to research published online June 19 in JAMA Surgery.

Ramzi Amri, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues retrospectively reviewed prospectively maintained data on all patients (1,071) who underwent colon cancer surgery at Mass General from 2004 through 2011.

The researchers found that 217 patients were diagnosed through screening. There was a significantly higher risk for a more invasive tumor (≥T3: relative risk [RR], 1.96), nodal disease (RR, 1.92), and metastatic disease on presentation (RR, 3.37) for patients not diagnosed through screening.

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These patients had significantly higher death rates (RR, 3.02) and recurrence rates (RR, 2.19) as well as significantly shorter survival and disease-free intervals during follow-up. When controlling for staging and baseline characteristics, the death rate and survival duration were significantly better stage for stage with diagnosis through screening.

“Compliance to screening colonoscopy guidelines can play an important role in prolonging longevity, improving quality of life, and reducing health care costs through early detection of colon cancer,” the authors write.