Cancer Screening Increases with Virtual Colonography Over Colonoscopy

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It’s no surprise that men would prefer not to receive a colonoscopy, but just how much they prefer the alternative CT colonography was the subject of a study in the current issue of The Lancet.

Researchers found a 55% improvement in screening compliance with the non-invasive virtual colonography over colonoscopy. The study looked at about 2,000 men between the ages of 50 and 75.

Cost-effectiveness studies generally report colonography to be equally effective at detecting colon cancer with colonoscopy slightly better in some cases. Medicare, however, only covers colonography for limited purposes. It's resistance has drawn fierce criticism from the American College of Radiology.

The debate over the two methods of detecting colon cancer also represents two competing interests among medical specialties. In 2010, President Barack Obama’s decision to receive a colonography sparked a firestorm between gastroenterology and radiology specialty societies.

“Make no mistake: If let stand, this CMS decision not to pay for CT colonography will cost lives. More than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. Nearly 50,000 of them die due to late detection. How can CMS ignore the fact that people are dying because they do not want to have the tests that are currently covered?” said James H. Thrall, M.D., FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors in a press release from 2009.

For the complete study in The Lancet click here.