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Women and colon cancer.

Colonoscopy, in which a tiny camera takes pictures of the entire colon, is the best method of screening for colon cancer in women, says a recent study in the May 19 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Known as CONCeRN (Colorectal Neoplasia Screening with Colonoscopy in Average-Risk Women at Regional Naval Centers), the study involved 1,483 asymptomatic women ages 50 to 79 in Bethesda, Washington, D.C., San Diego and Portsmouth, who were screened with colonoscopies. They were compared with 3,000 patients in the Veterans Affairs Cooperative Study 380, 97 percent of whom were male. The study showed that advanced, precancerous polyps were found high up in the colon in women. Most polyps in men are found in the lower colon. "If you can visualize it, the colon looks a lot like a question mark. Women's polyps are mostly found past the first curve," says lead researcher, Dr. Philip Schoenfeld, assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School. Other methods of screening for colon cancer are fecal occult-blood tests and sigmoidoscopies, which only examine the lower portion of the colon. The study found that 65 percent of the women with advanced pre-cancerous polyps would have had their lesions missed if they only received sigmoidoscopies. Fecal occult blood tests (blood in the stool) only pick up 10 to 20 percent of colon cancers in men and women. Dr. Schoenfeld recommends that all women over 50 should be screened for colon cancer by colonoscopy. To reduce your risk of colon cancer, eat a variety of vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Avoid red meat.

Note: If you experience bleeding from the rectum, inform your doctor.
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Title Annotation:HOT FLASHES
Publication:A Friend Indeed
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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