Last updated: Apr 17, 2009
Colon cancer and osteoporosis are both growing concerns as you age, and a simple, nearly pain-free test for both may be available soon.


The “virtual colonoscopy” uses a CT scan of the abdomen to create cross-sectional images of both the colon and spine. Using the images, doctors can detect precancerous polyps in the large intestine and bone-mineral loss in the spine.

The entire test takes about 15 minutes and is much cheaper than having separate exams. Virtual colonoscopy is becoming more widely available, says Rizwan Aslam, MD, assistant professor of radiology at the University of California, San Francisco, and many docs may offer the dual test within a year.