The Colon Cancer Alliance (CCA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) are calling upon Congress to pass H.R. 4165 -- the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act. Passage of this bill would cover Medicare beneficiaries for this life-saving exam.
A recent study
published in the American Journal of Roentgenology confirms that CT colonography is an effective screening tool for colorectal cancer in seniors aged 65 and older.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that up to 30,000 colorectal cancer deaths each year could be prevented if all those aged 50 and older were screened regularly. However, roughly one-third of those who should be screened for colorectal cancer never get tested. This is especially true among minorities where screening rates are much lower.
Studies at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, and the Naval Medical Center in San Diego have shown that the availability of the virtual exam significantly boosted colorectal cancer screening rates -- a step in the right direction.
The virtual colonoscopy uses high-tech, low-dose X-rays to produce three-dimentional, moving images of the colon. The virtual exam is far less invasive than standard colonoscopy, and it doesn’t require sedation. Since the test does not require sedation, patients can resume normal activity afterwards. This type of test is also safer for patients that are frail and have other medical problems.
Andrew Spiegel, chief executive officer of the Colon Cancer Alliance, said this week in a press release:
Currently, many of America’s seniors do not have access to virtual colonoscopy because it is not covered under Medicare. This is alarming considering the exam has the potential to boost screening rates and ultimately save lives... Congress has been given a chance to make a difference in the lives of many Americans. I hope lawmakers act now and support the passage of H.R. 4165.
Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors, said:
The American College of Radiology has made significant strides in the fight to make virtual colonoscopy a reality for American seniors... The College encourages Congress and lawmakers to support Medicare coverage of virtual colonoscopy and pass H.R. 4165.
Many of our seniors avoid colorectal screening for various reasons -- bowel preparation, sedation, and discomfort. Do you feel virtual colonoscopy would increase colorectal screening among this particular population?