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What Women Don't Know About Cancer

Survey Reveals Common Misconceptions About Cancer

New Colorectal Cancer Guidelines continued...

The guidelines call for most average-risk women to begin screening at age 50, with repeat screenings every 10 years or as needed. Women should be screened earlier if they have a family history of the disease or of adenomatous polyps, a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease.

Advantages of colonoscopy over other screening methods include its ability to visualize the entire colon and to remove potentially dangerous polyps that could become malignant.

"While we want ob-gyns to encourage this method, they should still discuss the advantages and limitations of the other screening options with their patients," says Carol Brown, MD, of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "The bottom line is we want women to get tested by whichever method they are most likely to accept and follow through with."

Lung Cancer Bucking the Trend

ACOG's web guide titled "Protect and Detect: What Women Should Know About Cancer," was designed to educate women about the cancers that affect them most, including breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, ovarian, and uterine cancers.

While the death rate from most of these cancers has either declined or remained steady in recent years, lung cancer deaths among women has climbed.

Fully 80% of lung cancers in women are caused by smoking, and 5% to 10% may be due to 'passive' exposure to cigarette smoke, Sharon Phenlan, MD, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine, said Friday.

Though more women get more breast cancer than lung cancer, far fewer breast cancer patients die. In 2007, the American Cancer Society estimates that 70,880 women will die of lung cancer, compared with 40,460 who will die of breast cancer.

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