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Do Men Need Earlier Colorectal Screenings?

Austrian Study Shows That Men Develop Cancer and Precancerous Growths Earlier Than Women

About Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer for men and women, according to the American Cancer Society. They estimate that just over 100,000 new cases of colon cancer and nearly 40,000 new cases of rectal cancer will be diagnosed this year. In 2011, nearly 50,000 people will die from both cancers combined.

Diagnosing precancerous colon polyps and colorectal cancer at an early stage -- the goal of screening -- vastly improves a patient’s chances of survival. For colorectal surgeon Meagan Costedio, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, the study results may influence current recommendations on when men should have their first colonoscopy.

“People might be willing to decrease the age to 45 in men and see if it changes things,” says Costedio, who was not involved in the research. “If we see a drop in incidence of cancer, that would be a good change in practice.”

However, she cautions that colonoscopies are not risk-free procedures. Tears, bleeding, and perforations of the colon are rare but possible complications.

“We don’t want to increase the risk of hurting people,” Costedio says.

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