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Decision by Medicare's CMS to Deny Coverage for 'Virtual' Colon Cancer Tests Underscores Lack of Evidence on Cancer Prevention
Date:5/13/2009

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The College recognizes that CT colonography might be an option to consider for patients who, because of infirmity or the presence of significant co-morbid diseases, would be at an increased risk for complications in relation to colonoscopy. However, the vast majority of patients would benefit from the potentially lifesaving benefits of screening for colon cancer using colonoscopy.

When evaluating new potential screening technologies, including CT colonography, the ACG has focused its evaluation on several pieces of evidence including: sensitivity for identification of polyps of various sizes, standards for polyp removal, balancing patient risks (in this case from radiation exposure) with benefits, frequency of exams and the economic impact to the healthcare system of separate diagnostic and therapeutic exams.

"There is a tremendous body of evidence that shows that clearing the colon of polyps, including small polyps, significantly reduces colorectal cancer mortality. Because of its excellent sensitivity in detecting polyps and its potential for removing them and breaking the sequence of polyp to cancer in a single diagnostic and therapeutic intervention, complete colonoscopy is one of the most powerful preventive tools in clinical medicine. Until a radiographic test can meet that standard, gastroenterologists will continue to champion the lifesaving potential of colonoscopy," added Dr. Quigley.


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SOURCE American College of Gastroenterology
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