Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can women get colon cancer?"
I'm 42 and my father died of colon cancer. Can I get it too even though I am a woman? When should I start screening?
Colon cancer can certainly affect women in addition to men. Studies suggest that the chance of a woman getting colon cancer before the age of 80 is about 1 in 15. Generally, screening for the average-risk population begins at age 50, whether through annual fecal occult blood testing or with colonoscopy. Certain populations that have an increased risk of colon cancer should begin their screening at an earlier age. If there is concern of a familial syndrome that predisposes to colon cancer (as suggested by the presence of colon cancer in more than one first-degree relative) then screening should begin at an earlier age. If a first-degree relative (such as your father) was diagnosed with colon cancer at a relatively young age, then his first-degree relatives should begin screening earlier; this should start at the age of 10 years earlier than he was when he was diagnosed, or age 50, whichever comes first.
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