Harvard Men's Health Watch

If you want to avoid colonoscopy, you still have effective options

Colonoscopy is best for early colorectal cancer prevention, but stool testing also works pretty well if you have it every year.

Colonoscopy checks the colon for precancerous growths, providing a way to literally nip cancer in the bud. But some men still shy away from colonoscopy. In exchange for getting the Cadillac of colorectal cancer tests, you must go through an intensive laxative "bowel prep." The procedure itself is invasive, with a flexible instrument threaded deep into the body. Colonoscopy requires sedation and carries a small risk of bleeding or tearing the colon wall.

"If you are willing to accept colonoscopy's inconveniences, I think this is the best possible test for you," says Dr. Andrew Chan, researcher in colorectal-cancer prevention and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. "But you need to have some screening exam, and something is better than nothing."

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