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C. A Colorectal Test that's Inadequate in Elderly Female Patients

Narrator: This is Science Today. When it comes to detecting colorectal cancer, flexible sigmoidoscopy is one of the most common screening tools. But a University of California, San Francisco study found that the chance of an inadequate sigmoidoscopy examination increases with old age. In fact, Louise Walter, a staff physician in geriatrics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, discovered that women were twice as likely as men to have inadequate sigmoidoscopies.

Walter: The most likely explanation is probably anatomical differences - women's colons are different than men's. There's a sharper turn at the sigmoid colon, making the flexible sigmoidoscopy harder to get around.

Narrator: There are three screening tools for colorectal cancer - the colonoscopy, the flexible sigmoidoscopy and the fecal occult blood test. Walter says there are risks and benefits to each.

Walter: This study is certainly not meant to say you shouldn't get screened. It's more trying to - of the three screening tests that you could do, which one would be the most likely to have more benefits than risks and this is just helping in that decision.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.