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Colon cancer advances faster in men

05 October 2011, 10:44

 Men with colon cancer tend to have more advanced tumours than women of the same age, said a study that suggested screening guidelines may need to be adjusted for sex and age.

Currently, men and women age 50 and older are urged to get a colonoscopy to screen for growths or polyps that could form into tumours. Colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cancer killer worldwide, taking 610,000 lives per year.

The study in the Journal of the American Medical Association examined 44,350 participants in a national screening colonoscopy programme from 2007 to 2010 in Austria.

More lesions among men

The screenings look for adenomas, which are polyps or benign tumours, as well as for particularly advanced adenomas and colorectal cancer.

The analysis found a significantly higher rate of these lesions among men compared with women in all age groups, suggesting that male sex constitutes an independent risk factor for colorectal carcinoma, according to the study.

For instance, 5% of men age 50-54 had advanced adenomas compared to just 2.9% of women.

The rate of colorectal cancer in 55-59-year-old men (1.3%) was about the same as in women a decade older (65-69-year-old women were diagnosed at a rate of 1.2%).

Screening at different ages

The prevalence of colorectal cancer overall was twice as high among men, at 1.5%, compared to 0.7% in women.

The researchers noted that deciding whether to adjust the age at which screening begins also requires considering whether the recommended age for women should be older or the recommended age for men younger.

However, the study stopped short of saying what that new age should be, saying further studies are needed to demonstrate the relative clinical effectiveness of screening at different ages.

- Sapa

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