A simple, cheaper exam of just the lower part of the bowel can cut the risk of developing colon cancer or dying of the disease, a large federal study has found.
Many doctors recommend a more complete test — colonoscopy — but many people refuse that costly, unpleasant exam. The new study shows that the simpler test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, can be a good option. Although it may seem similar to having a mammogram on just one breast, experts say that even a partial bowel exam is better than none.
As one put it, “the best test is the one that gets done.”
The study was published online this week by the New England Journal of Medicine. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and the fourth worldwide. More than 143,000 new cases and 52,000 deaths from the disease are expected this year in the U.S. alone.