NEW YORK: Having an X-ray to look for signs of colon cancer may soon be an option for those who dread the traditional scope examination.

Two of the largest studies yet of “virtual colonoscopy” show the experimental technique works just as well at spotting potentially cancerous growths as the more invasive method. It is also quicker and cheaper.

The X-rays can help sort out who really needs the full exam and removal of suspicious growths, called polyps. In one study, only 8 per cent of patients had to have follow-up traditional colonoscopies, which are done under sedation and carry a small risk of puncturing the bowel.

But what some people consider the most unpleasant part cannot be avoided: drinking laxatives to purge the bowel . – AP