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Of all the important medical tests people get, a colonoscopy probably ranks as one of the least popular.
But a recent study has some encouraging news about a possible alternative. It's called virtual colonoscopy.
It allows physicians to look for abnormal growths in the colon in a much less invasive manner.
And this latest study says it's just as effective as the more traditional method.
This high tech glide through the inner workings of the human body could help persuade millions of Americans to undergo a colonoscopy.
Virtual colonoscopy uses a CT scan to create a computer generated image of the colon that can detect cancer in it's earliest stages.
This latest study, in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that it is just as good as the more conventional method of looking for problems.
Researchers studied more than 12-hundred adults and found that virtual colonoscopy detected pre-cancerous polyps 8 millimeters or more in size, almost 94 percent of the time.
In contrast, traditional colonoscopy found them 91 percent of the time. Also, the virtual method did not have many false positives.
That's encouraging news for the millions of Americans who avoid undergoing a colonoscopy because they don't like the idea of a long tube being inserted through their rectum to screen for problems.
The virtual method still requires patients to go through the bowel-cleansing prep beforehand, and if a problem is spotted they'll still have to undergo a regular colonoscopy to remove the growth.
Even so, the study is good news because it shows the virtual method is an accurate screening tool.
It's hoped that will encourage more people to get screened. The more people we screen the more cancers we'll find and lives we'll save.
The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone over the age of fifty get a colonoscopy every ten years. Right now less than half of those who should be screened do so.