CT colonography screening: Wind on its back

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The confidence to use CT colonography (CTC) as a screening has gained a great deal of momentum over the passed few months, bolstered by mounting clinical evidence and, most recently, congressional action.

Last week, Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Ill., along with co-sponsors Reps. Mark S. Kirk, R-Ill., and Dan Boren, D-Okla., introduced the Virtual Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act of 2010, which seeks to require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide coverage of screening CTC to Medicare beneficiaries.

The American College of Radiology (ACR), which came out in support of the bill, noted that many private payors—including CIGNA, UnitedHealthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield—cover CTC for screening and diagnosis.

The ACR also pointed out, as many others have, that since President Barack Obama chose to undergo the screening procedure, it shouldn’t be denied to millions of beneficiaries.

Additionally, a study in this month’s Journal of Nuclear Medicine found that PET combined with CTC may provide a suitable alternative for detecting polyps and cancer in the colon, and the lack of bowel prep might be particularly beneficial in the elderly population.

As the evidence continues to build for this less invasive procedure, the clinical literature is being further evaluated, as NIH researcher Ronald M. Summers, MD, PhD, spoke to the important of colon polyp size as a critical biomarker in this month’s Radiology.

Stay tuned for how the legislation progresses through the Congress.

Justine Cadet