Yes, there are alternative methods to examine the colon, but none are considered more accurate at colon cancer and polyp detection than colonoscopy.
- A flexible sigmoidoscopy
- Computerized tomography (CT), a test that takes pictures of the inside of the colon, can also be done. This is called CT colography or “virtual colonoscopy.” Like conventional colonoscopy, this test requires a full preparation the day before the exam (liquids and possibly enemas). This test, however, involves radiation exposure which may increase your long term risk of development of cancer.
If any of the above tests suggest the presence of polyps or cancer, a conventional colonoscopy (and a second preparation) will be required.
For colon cancer screening, it should be noted that colonoscopy has the highest sensitivity and is the only test that is both diagnostic and therapeutic.