In what could be the first step in gaining a favorable recommendation for low-dose CT colonography from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the organization has included the test in its draft research plan on colorectal screening.
Medial imaging providers point out that surveys find patients prefer CT colonography to traditional colonoscopy because it is less invasive and does not require sedation. In addition, it is a lower-cost form of screening and could reach some patients at risk who have avoided screening because of concerns about the endoscope used in traditional optical exams.
Advocates for not changing current standards point out that CT colonography still requires the sometimes uncomfortable preparation needed to clean the colon ahead of an exam, comes with a small dose of radiation, and requires a follow-up procedure if tissue samples are needed to investigate suspicious findings.
Under the Affordable Care Act, any preventive service given an A or B recommendation by the USPSTF must be covered by new insurance plans within a year and considered by Medicare/Medicaid, making a recommendation from the USPSTF the most influential of any screening test advisory group.
Gail Rodriguez, executive director of the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA), which represents the makers of the CT scanners used in low-dose CT colonography, noted her approval of the development in an official MITA statement.
“We are pleased that USPSTF has initiated a systematic review of this demonstrated life- and cost-saving imaging technology,” she stated. “An abundance of evidence confirms that CT colonography is a safe, cost-effective diagnostic tool, particularly for patients who are resistant to traditional, optical colonoscopy. The release of this draft Research Plan is an essential first step toward expanding Medicare beneficiary access to early detection and treatment and ultimately turning more colon cancer patients into survivors.”
MITA noted that colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, despite having a 90% cure rate when detected early.