Harvard Men's Health Watch

Colonoscopy now easier to tolerate

Bowel prep is much more manageable, and CT-based 'virtual colonoscopy' may one day allow you to skip that, too.

Public health guidelines urge people 50 or older to undergo colorectal cancer screening. There are a number of options, but the gold standard procedure is colonoscopy: using a flexible, lighted instrument to check for signs of colon cancer or the presence of potentially precancerous growths called polyps. Removing polyps can prevent cancer.

But many people do not take advantage of colonoscopy's ability to prevent cancer. In fact, a large fraction of Americans avoid or delay colorectal cancer screening altogether. The main reason is fear of the aggressive colon-clearing "bowel prep" required before colonoscopy. But it might be time for people in avoidance mode to reconsider.

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