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Frequently Asked Questions When Considering a Colorectal Cancer Screening Test, From the American College of Gastroenterology
Date:10/5/2007

BETHESDA, Md., Oct. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Results from two studies comparing colorectal cancer screening by conventional or optical colonoscopy versus CT colonography (sometimes called virtual colonoscopy) have sparked interest in colorectal cancer screening and may raise questions in the minds of consumers. The studies, one a large multi-center trial sponsored by the NIH known as ACRIN, and the other from the University of Wisconsin published in the New England Journal of Medicine yesterday, assessed the accuracy of a CT scan of the abdomen to detect polyps or cancer in the colon compared to optical colonoscopy, the current gold standard for colorectal cancer screening.

The American College of Gastroenterology, an organization of more than 10,000 digestive disease specialists, wants consumers to understand the issues surrounding both of these tests for colorectal cancer and has developed this FAQ. Reporters interested in interviewing physician experts on colorectal screening may contact Anne-Louise Oliphant at 301-263-9000.

What are the Advantages of Optical or Conventional Colonoscopy?

Recommended by medical and cancer groups for colorectal cancer screening, conventional colonoscopy utilizes direct visualization of the entire colon to detect pre-cancerous growths, including smaller polyps, even below 1 cm. This test allows removal of suspicious polyps without surgery at the time of the exam. Three studies have shown that colonoscopy prevents about 80 percent of colorectal cancers from developing by removing pre-cancerous polyps. Traditional colonoscopy is one of the most powerful prevention tools in clinical medicine.

What Happens During a CT Colonography?

CT colonography or "virtual colonoscopy" is an X-ray test designed to look for colon polyps and cancers. First, a radiology technician inserts a tube into your rectum and air is pumped into the colon until it is fully distended. Then, you are asked to hold your br
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SOURCE American College of Gastroenterology
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