Gut Check: Colonoscopy New and Old

Colonoscopy is the best method we have for early detection of colon cancer, which kills 50,000 Americans each year. While many people think they’d prefer the less invasive virtual exam to the traditional test performed with an endoscope, results may not be as accurate. Both spot precancerous polyps. But virtual tests, which show only black-and-white images, aren’t as good at detecting flat lesions. And flat lesions are five times more likely than polyps to show early cancer, according to a recent study of 2,000 people.

Traditional Colonoscopy ExamJose Luis Pelaez/Iconica/Getty ImagesExperts advise traditional exams, and urge you to follow instructions to fast and drink the prescribed liquids beforehand.

Since many physicians aren’t as well trained at finding these lesions, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your doctor about his training. Study author Roy Soetikno, MD, urges you to request the traditional exam, and follow instructions to fast and drink the prescribed liquids beforehand. “You need the test only once in ten years when normal, so it’s better to do it right that one time.”

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