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Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Women Want Women MDs to Do Colon Screenings

One in 20 Won't Undergo Colonoscopy Unless Guaranteed a Female Endoscopist
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Other Deterrents to Screening

Other reasons women shun colon screenings include aversion to the test preparation. The night before the procedure, patients must drink a gallon of bitter liquid to flush out the colon. Another reason is the test itself, which involves snaking a long tube up the rectum and into the colon. Also, 18% of the women said they skipped the test because of discomfort, the survey shows.

Talk to Your Doctor

Obviously, training more women to perform the procedure won't happen overnight. So what should be done?

Francis A. Farraye, MD, clinical director of gastroenterology at Boston Medical Center, says, "It's really up to the doctor, male or female, to make the patient feel comfortable. If the practice is lucky enough to have a female endoscopist, make sure all the women know that. And women shouldn't be embarrassed to ask," he explains.

If no female endoscopist is available, "every effort should be made to reassure a woman that the male endoscopist works closely with women in the practice and that every effort will be made to address their concerns," Farraye says. He moderated the session at which the findings were presented here at Digestive Disease Week, a major meeting of gastroenterologists.

According to the American Gastroenterological Association, about 15% of its members are female.

Vast Majority Will Wait a Month for a Female

Other findings of the survey of 202 women, aged 40 years to 70 years:

  • Of those who preferred a female endoscopist, 87% were willing to wait more than 30 days for a woman and 14% were willing to pay more.
  • Embarrassment was the most common reason (75%) cited for wanting a woman.
  • Women whose primary care physicians were women were more than three times more likely to want a female endoscopist than those who had a male doctor.
  • Women who were employed were about 2.5 times more likely to prefer a female endoscopist than those who didn't work.
  • Women were more likely to undergo a colonoscopy if their doctor recommended the test. But only one in two women said their doctors told them to have it, Menees notes.

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