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Health Capsules
February 2009
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Web Tool Predicts Colon Cancer Risk

A new online tool can help calculate your risk for colorectal cancer if you’re age 50 or older. A better understanding of your risk will help you and your doctor make more informed choices about which screening tests you should take to detect signs of cancer before symptoms appear.

It takes only 5-8 minutes to answer about 15 questions at the online tool’s web site. It will then calculate your risk for colorectal cancer.

The initial version of the risk assessment tool is only designed to assess cancer risk for non-Hispanic whites age 50 or older. But NIH scientists are now working to expand the tool to include additional ages and racial/ethnic groups.

Researchers stress that it’s important to talk with your primary health care provider about the results.

The new tool is now available online at

Wise Choices iconWise Choices

Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

  • Fecal occult blood test. Analyzes your stool samples for tiny amounts of blood.
  • Digital rectal exam. A doctor uses a gloved finger to feel for abnormal areas in your rectum.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. A lighted tube looks into the rectum and the lower part of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy. A long, flexible lighted tube looks inside the rectum and entire colon.
  • Double-contrast barium enema. X-ray pictures look at your colon and rectum.

Definitions iconDefinitions

Colorectal Cancer
Cancer of the colon or rectum, both part of the large intestine.

Links iconWeb Sites

Colorectal Cancer Risk Tool

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Understanding Cancer Risk

  Therapy Curbs Parkinson’s Symptoms

A new study shows that a treatment called deep brain stimulation can improve quality of life for patients with Parkinson’s disease and give them more daily hours without bothersome movement symptoms. However, brain stimulation also carries a greater risk of serious side effects.

Deep brain stimulation has been used for over a decade to treat patients whose Parkinson’s symptoms are no longer effectively controlled with medication. The procedure involves surgically implanting tiny electrodes into brain regions that control movement. When the electrodes are stimulated, they inhibit the malfunctioning brain signals that cause the movement problems of Parkinson’s.

The new study looked at 255 patients with advanced Parkinson’s disease. They were randomly assigned to receive either deep brain stimulation or standard therapy, including medication.

By 6 months after surgery, movement control improved in 71% of patients who received brain stimulation, compared to 32% in the standard therapy group. On the down side, serious problems like infection from surgery were seen in 40% of patients who received brain stimulation but just 11% in the other group. Most of the side effects, however, improved within a few months.

Links iconWeb Sites

Deep Brain Stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease

Parkinson’s Treatment—NIH Vodcast (on YouTube)

Parkinson’s Disease



Links iconFeatured Web Site

Aim for a Healthy Weight

Losing weight takes time and perseverance. This website can help jumpstart your efforts. Learn how to take small steps to change your lifestyle, and find tips for eating well at home and on the road as well as being more active.

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