American Cancer Society adopts virtual colonoscopy as screening guideline

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Virtual colonoscopy deemed an acceptable screening tool by ACS. Source: Rochester Medical Center  

The American Cancer Society (ACS) has examined the latest published research and preliminary results of recently completed trials, and decided to support the inclusion of virtual colonoscopy (VC), as a front-line screening exam for colorectal cancer.

VC is now included as one of several options for colorectal cancer screening and prevention in average-risk adults age 50 years and older and recommended that this population receive the procedure once every five years. This is the first-ever joint consensus guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, released by the ACS, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, which includes representatives from the American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

The ACR said CT colonography (CTC) employs cutting-edge, virtual reality technology to produce 3D images that permit a thorough and minimally invasive evaluation of the entire colorectal structure; and no sedation is required for the exam, allowing patients to resume normal activity, including driving, immediately following the procedure.

“CT colonography, as a minimally invasive exam, can potentially encourage many more people to choose to be screened for colorectal cancer. This could result in early detection of the disease for more patients, increasing the chance of successful treatment, and potentially reduce colorectal cancer deaths nationwide,” said Arl Van Moore, Jr., MD, FACR, chair of the ACR board of chancellors.

The National CT Colonography Trial results coordinated by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), and presented at the 2007 ACRIN Fall Meeting, suggest CTC is comparable to optical colonoscopy for the detection of cancer and clinically significant polyps when techniques are applied and images are read by radiologists trained in the procedure, the college said. The results of the ACRIN trial are expected to be published later this spring.

The ACR has published practice guidelines for CTC, and has outlined practice-based quality metrics. The college intends to open an interactive training facility for CTC and other imaging procedures. CTC training courses will begin in April 2008, and a process for individual certification and proficiency is being evaluated. 

“The ACR urges patients to begin being screened for colorectal cancer at age 50 and we strongly urge Medicare and private insurance companies to support screening efforts by reimbursing appropriately for CT colonography,” Moore said.