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Colorectal Cancer 18 Mar 2022

Why are Women Reluctant to Come Forward for Colorectal Cancer Screening?

Why are Women Reluctant to Come Forward for Colorectal Cancer Screening?

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among women in the UAE and represents one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths.

It is also one of the most preventable types of cancer, with up to 90% of cases being successfully treated if caught early. Routine screening if the best way to catch it early, giving women the best chance of beating the disease.

Yet many women are reluctant to come forward for screening. Our female gastroenterologist, Dr. Pascale Anglade, explains why this might be the case.

Why screening is so important

Let’s first take a look at why screening is so vital. Dr. Anglade explains, “The symptoms of colorectal cancer often don't appear until the later stages of the disease, when unfortunately, it is more difficult to treat. Screening can help us to catch it as soon as possible, in the earliest stages of the disease or before it has even had time to develop, giving patients the best chance of survival.”

Screening is performed via a colonoscopy, the gold standard in colon cancer prevention. Advances in colonoscopy in recent years mean that colorectal is one of the most preventable types of cancer, giving patients the chance to have potentially precancerous polyps removed, before they can turn into cancer.

Leaving it too late

Despite the life-saving benefits of a colonoscopy, Dr. Anglade and her colleagues at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi still notice a reluctance in some women to have the screening. They see many women for the first time when the disease has advanced to a later, more difficult to treat, stage.

“Unfortunately, we see many women who have late-stage colorectal cancer that could have been picked up with routine screening. Often, they have avoided a colonoscopy due to fear or embarrassment” says Dr. Anglade.

“Women may fear several things, including the procedure itself, but it really isn’t anything to be afraid of. It isn’t painful, and our team make every effort to put a patient’s mind at ease by explaining the entire procedure to them beforehand” explains Dr. Anglade. “Fear of bad news is another reason women avoid screening. This is completely understandable, but I always tell my patients that even if we do detect polyps, this is a good thing, as they can usually be removed before they turn into cancer. It is always better to find something that we can address, rather than leave it too late”

A comfortable environment

Many women are embarrassed at the thought of a colonoscopy. To help put them at ease, the Digestive Disease Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi offers an Endoscopy Team ‘For Women, By Women’, led by Dr. Anglade. She explains, “Our female-only endoscopy team consists of nurses, doctors, and admin staff who are all women. Our aim to make the procedure as comfortable as possible for female patients. We provide compassionate care in a culturally sensitive environment and ultimately want to encourage women to come and attend screening that could save their life.”

Routine screening is recommended for everyone over the age of 40 to prevent colorectal cancer. If you are considered at high-risk, screening should happen every year.

If you are over 40, schedule your colonoscopy today. It could save your life.

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