Does gender matter in colon cancer screening?

By REUTERS
September 29, 2011 05:36

Middle-aged men are twice as likely as women to end up with a cancer diagnosis after a colonoscopy, according to an Austrian study that challenges current screening guidelines.

Currently, people at average risk of colon cancer start screening for the disease at age 50, regardless of gender.

But the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, shows a discrepancy of nearly 10 years between men and women in the development of colon and rectal tumors.

The study found that around 80 55-year-old men would need to undergo colonoscopies to spot one cancer, with the same true for 65-year-old women. The same logic held for the pre-cancerous growths called advanced adenomas, which doctors also look for during colonoscopies.

"Among a cohort of Austrian individuals undergoing screening colonoscopy, the prevalence and number needed to screen for advanced adenomas were comparable between men aged 45 to 49 years and women aged 55 to 59 years," wrote lead researcher Monika Ferlitsch, of the Medical University of Vienna.


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