Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer in America.
Now there's a new, easy-to-take screening test available.
And, some doctors in Chicago hope a major new research project will convince companies to pay for it.
Joanne Knox is about to have her colon scanned at the University of Chicago hospitals.
Later she'll have a regular colonoscopy.
She and Doctor Abraham Dachman are part of a nationwide study to see if a virtual colonoscopy can replace the regular test for most patients.
A standard colonoscopy threads a tube through the colon to search for tumors or pre-cancerous polyps.
The American cancer society urges everyone over 50 to get a colon screening test.
A lot of patients don't like the tube's intrusion and don't get screened.
Dr. Abraham Dachman, a radiologist, says, “There are very few states in the United States where even 50-percent of the population over 50 years of age has been screened."
A virtual colonoscopy is more patient friendly.
Only air is inserted into the colon while a CT scan creates an animation that's nearly as accurate as a regular colonoscopy.
Dr. Dachman states, "No single test is perfect. There are certainly polyps that we miss, and we also occasionally pick up polyps that they miss."
Only the few patients, those with polyps, would need to follow up with a regular colonoscopy.
For everyone else, the virtual test is easier, and about $500 cheaper.
There is one problem -- most insurance companies only cover the standard screening test, not the virtual one.
Dr. Dachman hopes the study will provide the evidence to change that.