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05/15/2012 12:09 EDT | Updated 07/14/2012 05:12 EDT
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 finds.

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.

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