OB-GYNs Urge Colorectal Cancer Screening for Their Patients

Can your annual visit to your gynecologist save your life?

Every year more than 70,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.   Many of those women see a gynecologist for an annual check-up.  In fact, the gynecologist may be their primary health care provider with a unique opportunity to help women decide on colorectal cancer screening.

A new Committee Opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says that while colonoscopy is the preferred method for screening, women should also hear about other options.  The Committee Opinion stresses:

Women should be screened using the method that they are most comfortable with and most likely to complete.

The Committee Opinion encourages tests that detect both polyps and early colorectal cancers, with colonoscopy as the recommended option because it visualizes the entire colon, including the right side.  Those tests include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, double contrast barium enema, and CT-colonography (virtual colonoscopy).

However, women should also know about tests that primarily detect early cancers included fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and fecal DNA testing.

Cheryl B. Iglesia, MD, chair of The College’s Committee on Gynecologic Practice, said,

It’s important that ob-gyns be familiar with the various forms of screening exams for colon cancer. No one screening method is best for every woman, so we must lay out the options, help them understand the benefits and drawbacks of each, and let them select the test that best suits them.

SOURCE: Committee Opinion No. 482, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Volume 117, Issue 3, March 2011.


  1. Darlene H says

    For many years my only trip to the doctor was for my annual Pap test performed by my Gynacologist. Year after year I would complain of constipation and diarrhea and year after year he would tall me that was common for women. In 2009 I was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. Resection was not an option due to both lobes of the liver containing tumors. How easy would it have been for that doctor to suggest a colonoscopy? I was only 47 at the time and of course colonoscopies are started at 50 years old. I urge anyone who has concerns to be your own advocate, don’t be put off by a doctor. Always err on the side of caution.

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