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CMS Denial of Coverage for Virtual Colonoscopy May Cost Lives
Date:5/12/2009

Congress Should Act to Require Coverage of CT Colonography

RESTON, Va., May 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today's determination by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to not cover screening computed tomography colonography (CTC), also known as virtual colonoscopy, exams is not supported by the latest clinical evidence and may result in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths each year from colorectal cancer, particularly among minority and underserved populations. CMS should reverse this determination and provide full coverage of CT colonography or Congress should pass legislation in this session to require Medicare coverage of the exam.

Recently, the landmark multi-center American College of Radiology Imaging Network Trial, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and published in the New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrated that CT colonography is comparable in effectiveness to standard colonoscopy as a screening tool for the detection of cancer and precancerous polyps. The American Cancer Society has added CT colonography to its list of recommended colorectal cancer screening exams. The National Cancer Institute Colorectal Cancer Progress Review Group predicts that wider use of screening could save 20,000 lives annually.

"Make no mistake: If let stand, this CMS decision not to pay for CT colonography will cost lives. More than 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. Nearly 50,000 of them die due to late detection. How can CMS ignore the fact that people are dying because they do not want to have the tests that are currently covered?" said James H. Thrall, M.D., FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors. "For CMS to turn its back to a technology that can attract more patents to be screened and save countless lives is deeply concerning. CMS should reverse this determination immediately or
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SOURCE American College of Radiology
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