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Community Health Data Base
An Information Service of the Philadelphia Health Management Corporation

Women Need Colorectal Cancer Screenings Too
Thursday. March 13, 2003

PHILADELPHIA, PA, March 2003 — Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. When diagnosed early, however, it is also one of the most treatable forms of cancer. Data from a recent survey, conducted by Philadelphia Health Management Corporation (PHMC), a local nonprofit, indicate that women in Southeastern Pennsylvania are not as proactive as men in receiving the tests needed to detect the disease.

There are several types of screenings or diagnostic tests used to screen for colorectal cancer. Of these, the annual fecal occult blood stool test (FOBT), for persons age 50 years and older, is noteworthy for both its low cost and noninvasive characteristics. According to PHMC’s 2002 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey, women 50 years of age and older are less likely than men of the same age group to have received a FOBT in the past year (43.7% versus 53%) despite the fact that women tend to access the healthcare system on a more regular basis.

Sigmoidoscopy and Colonoscopy are two additional colorectal cancer screenings that allow for an examination of the colon, the lining of the rectum or a portion of the large bowel for abnormalities. These state-of-the-art technologies have profound lifesaving detection capabilities. Yet, women 50 years of age and older living in the region are less likely than men to have ever had a Sigmoidoscopy or Colonoscopy (52.4% of women versus 63.2% men).

Advanced colorectal cancer is preventable through regular testing and through the removal of polyps (adenomas) in the colon, which may grow into cancerous tumors.  Regular preventive testing, such as a yearly Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), a Sigmoidoscopy and Colonoscopy are widely recommended for adults ages 50 years and older and can significantly lower the chances of being diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer. For more information about these tests, visit the Centers for Disease Control website at

PHMC is a nonprofit, public health organization committed to improving the health of the community through outreach, education, research, planning, technical assistance, and direct services. PHMC is a United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania member agency. The 2002 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey was conducted by telephone in the summer of 2002 and included more than 10,000 households in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia. Additional Household Health Survey findings are located on PHMC’s Community Health Data Base Webpage at