Should Colon Cancer Screenings be Different for Men and Women?

Adenomas seen earlier and more frequently in men than in women

(RxWiki News) Current guidelines suggest that most men and women have an initial colonoscopy to screen for colon cancer at the age of 50. New research suggests these guidelines might need to be more specific.

Men are more likely to develop advanced colon tumors than women of any age. According to a recently published study, this may mean a change in the ages women and men are encouraged to begin screening for the disease.

"Talk to your doctor about colon cancer screenings."

A study in Austria analyzed results of colonoscopies given to 44,350 participants between 2007 and 2010. Women made up 51 percent of participants.

The screenings aimed to find and remove polyps and non-cancerous tumors known as adenomas, especially advanced  adenomas (AAs).  These are precancerous growths and increase a person's risk of developing full-blown colorectal cancer.

Results were significantly different between men and women:

  • Adenomas were found in 24.9 percent of men and 14.8 percent of women.
  • Among individuals aged 50-54, prevalence of adenomas was 18.5 percent in men vs. 10.7 percent for women; AAs were found in 5 percent of men and 2.9 percent of women.
  • For women ages 65-69, the number of adenomas was 17.9 percent.

What these findings show is that precancerous growths are more prevalent in men.

Study authors suggest that while more research is needed, these findings may warrant changing guidelines to either increase the age of colonoscopies for women or lower the age of baseline screenings for men.

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin colon cancer screening based on your age, family history and other risk factors.

This study appeared in the September 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Review Date: 
September 29, 2011