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Virtual Colonoscopy Utilization Use Triples in the US

Posted Apr 04 2011 12:00am
The virtual colonoscopy , also known as the computed tomographic colonography (CTC), has become a popular alternative to standard colon cancer screening, according to a new study published in the April edition of the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

The data, taken from four years Medicare claims and denials, showed that despite the lack of Medicare coverage for the procedure, the number of people who undergo this non-invasive colon-cancer screening test has tripled.
“The rapid expansion of the use of diagnostic CTC, even in the absence of Medicare coverage for screening CTC, speaks volumes to the need of an alternative exam for those who choose not to undergo colonoscopy. As more insurers provide coverage for CTC, access to CTC is likely to expand," said Richard Duszak Jr., MD, lead author of the study.
The virtual colonoscopy uses CT technology to create a detailed 3D image of the colon to detect abnormalities, such as polyps. Most colon cancers develop from polyps, so finding and removing these lesions are an essential to preventing against cancer development.
Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and yet only 50 percent of the eligible population undergoes the recommended testing. The standard method of testing is a colonoscopy, which involves inserting a flexible probe directly into the colon to examine the inner walls of the intestinal tract. Many find this test uncomfortable and embarrassing, thus opt not to undergo the procedure.
The good news is that the virtual colonoscopy has been proven through several major trials to be an acceptable alternative to a standard colonoscopy, detecting abnormalities with a 92 percent accuracy rate.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all adults age 50 and above should receive a virtual colonoscopy every 5 years, or a standard colonoscopy every 10 years.
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