AUSTIN (KXAN) — Earlier this month, a study that examined the effectiveness of colonoscopy screenings was published. The European lead project found that colonoscopies were not as effective as scientists previously thought they were. Since then, many in the medical community have become concerned that this information may dissuade people from getting screened for colon cancer, the second most common type of cancer.

 “I think it’s good that the study was published because at least people are talking about colon cancer,” said Dr. Deepak Agrawal, Chief of Gastroenterology at Dell Medical School. 

“You know, it [is] a topic that we should always be talking about,” he continued. 

While the study’s results suggest colonoscopy screenings are not as effective in reducing colon cancer deaths, Agrawal explained that colonoscopies are still one of the more effective methods for screening this type of cancer. 

Colon cancer is one of the more preventable types of cancer. While colonoscopies may be uncomfortable and invasive, they can detect polyps before they turn into something worse. 

“With [a] colonoscopy, I am detecting hopefully polyps before they have turned into cancer. So in this way you can actually prevent cancer,” Agrawal said.

If a patient opts for a colonoscopy and no polyps are detected, they do not need to have another one for a decade. 

If polyps are detected, depending on the number, size and type of the polyps, then “the range is between three to 10 years,” Agrawal said.

There are other ways doctors can screen for colon cancer, though. Agrawal said the other most effective procedure for screening colon cancer is stool tests. 

In the early stages of colon cancer, a small amount of blood can be detected in a person’s stool. Argawal explained that the amount of blood would be so diminutive that while the naked eye would not be able to observe the blood, the test would. If someone opts for this type of test, they would need to undergo the screening every year, he said. 

“You may have a precancerous lesion, but it is not shedding blood. When it turns a little bit worse, it will shed blood. That’s why you have to do it every year,” Agrawal said.

There is another stool screen that tests for DNA called the Colorguard. This tool requires a person to be screened less frequently but is much more expensive, he explained. 

Lastly, there is a CT colonography, an imaging technique that still requires you to go through the dreaded prep process. A person who chooses this screen will need to have the procedure done every five years. 

While all of these tests qualify as colon cancer screening tests, Argawal said that the colonoscopy is the only tool that can be considered a colon cancer prevention test. 

Regardless of which test piques your interest, Argarwal encourages you to do one. 

“I would probably stress the fact that it is one of the most preventable cancers,” Argarwal said. “It is the second most common cancer and you can actually prevent [it].”