Are Polyps Harder to Detect in Women?

Digestive Disease Week  2011 Update

Although many studies show that men have more adenomas (pre-cancerous polyps) than women, there is no difference in rates of colorectal cancer between men and women.

Could this be because women have polyps that are harder to detect during screening and so aren’t removed in time to prevent cancer?

That was the question that Dr. Joseph Anderson at the University of Connecticut asked.

In 600 consecutive colonoscopies, Dr. Anderson counted the number of polyps overall, as well as those that were flat and those that were both flat and found in the upper part of the colon (proximal) since both flat and proximal polyps are harder to find.  He used a high definition colonoscope to uncover even the most difficult polyps.

He did find more polyps in men — 79 in the 248 men in the study.  There were 71 in 352 women.

  • But the women were much more likely to have flat adenomas:  41 of 71 or 57.7 percent.
  • Men had 29/79 flat polyps or 39.7 percent.

In addition,

  • Almost half (46.5 percent) of women’s polyps were both flat and located in the proximal colon.
  • For men, about 1 in 4 polyps (25.3 percent) were the hard to detect flat, proximal adenomas.

Women were almost four times as likely to have a more serious advanced flat, proximal adenoma as men.  19.1  percent of the advanced male polyps were flat and proximal compared to 48 percent of the female ones.

Watch Dr. Anderson describe his research and his results.

SOURCE:  Anderson and Soriano, Digestive Disease Week 2011, Poster Su1538, Larger Proportion of Significant Adenomas Present As Flat and Proximal in Women As Compared to Men: A Prospective Screening Study Using a High Definition Colonoscope.

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