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Do Men Need Earlier Colorectal Screenings?

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

Risk Factors Appear in Men 10 to 15 Years Earlier Than in Women continued...

It isn’t until women are 65 to 69 years old that their likelihood of adenomas matches men in their early to mid 50s, the researchers note.

According to the study, the likelihood that women have polyps increased as they entered their 60s. For men, a similar increase occurred when they were much younger, between the ages of 45 and 49.

Men were also twice as likely as women to have advanced adenomas, growths that have greater potential to lead to cancer. Overall, men were twice as likely to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

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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