Experts may consider new guidelines for virtual colonoscopy, or CT colonography, screening after study shows women can be screened later than men.
CT colonography, or virtual colonoscopy, to screen for precancerous polyps may not be needed as early for women as it is for men, according to a study published early online in the journal Cancer.
Until now there have been no studies determining a recommended age for cancer screening via virtual colonoscopy, a less invasive procedure that may be appropriate for patients who may not be able to be healthy enough or able to tolerate the traditional procedure. A virtual colonoscopy may also be more acceptable to patients who may be otherwise reluctant to undergo this type of screening.
Researchers from Italy studied 7,620 patients who were referred for first-time screening with virtual colonoscopy from 2004 and 2011. Results showed that of the total, 3.6 percent of patients were ultimately diagnosed with advanced cancer. Advanced age and male sex were linked with advanced disease, while body mass index and a family history of cancer were not.
"We showed that the possibility for average-risk individuals to have clinically meaningful polyps detected by virtual colonoscopy is strictly associated with two main variables, namely age and sex," researcher Cesare Hassan, MD, said in a release.
Researchers determined that 51 women under 55 would need to be screened to detect one case of advanced neoplasia, compared with only 10 men older than 65 years.
"If you are a man, the best age to have a virtual colonoscopy is between 55 and 60 years,” Hassan said, “but if you are a woman, you can at least wait until 60 years."