Men may need to begin colon cancer screening earlier than women, new research suggests.
The study found that men were far more likely to have potentially precancerous lesions (also called polyps or adenomas) in their colon — 24.9 percent of men compared to 14.8 percent of women — and to have them at an earlier age.
“In our study, analysis of age- and sex-specific prevalence of adenomas, advanced adenomas and colorectal cancers indicates 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 and their precursor lesions, and indicating new sex-specific age recommendations for screening colonoscopy,” said study author Dr. Monika Ferlitsch, an associate professor of medicine at the Medical University of Vienna in Austria.
But, at least one U.S. expert says that screening guidelines don’t need to be changed based on these findings alone.
“This is a very interesting, very well-done study that included a lot of people. But, I have a lot of concerns about making changes to currently accepted screening guidelines that are well thought-out,” said Dr. David Bernstein, chief of the division of gastroenterology at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y.
“There were very few people under 50 in this study, and all of those were referred because they have a high risk of colon cancer,” noted Bernstein, who said all of these people would have been referred for screening in the United States because of their higher risk anyway. He added that while the issue might warrant further investigation, he doesn’t see any need to make gender-based screening recommendations for colorectal cancer.