By Dr. Brian McDonough

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Most people dread the idea of having a colonoscopy and unfortunately some people never get around to it because they are embarrassed or they are afraid it might be painful.

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But let me tell you something: it is a lifesaver and now we have two studies that fully support this and show that what doctors have been doing and stressing for years is important.

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Both studies are from the New England Journal of Medicine and what they say is that having a colonoscopy, identifying polyps (which are precancerous lesions) can reduce the death rate by 50-percent or more.

There are few things in medicine that have that kind of impact or can save that many lives and these studies support the use of colonoscopy. If you have colon cancer in the family, or if you are at the age where colonoscopies are recommended, please consider having the procedure.

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Colon Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. It’s fourth overall in the world. More than 143,000 new cases of colon cancer are expected in the United States this year alone.