Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2012 --- 4:15 p.m.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A major study offers the first clear evidence that colonoscopies may help save lives.
The research suggests that removing precancerous growths found during the exam can cut the risk of dying from colon cancer in half.
Doctors have long assumed the test was beneficial, but it's never been shown that removing polyps would improve survival. That's the key measure of the value of any cancer screening test.
Deaths from colorectal cancer have been declining for more than two decades, mostly because of screening including colonoscopies and other tests. Routine screening is recommended beginning at age 50.
Results of the new study are published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.
Copyright 2012. The Associated Press.