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Study Supports CT-Based 'Virtual' Colonoscopy to Spot Colon Cancer
Date:2/23/2012

THURSDAY, Feb. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Noninvasive, CT-guided "virtual" colonoscopy is similar to standard colonoscopy in its ability to detect colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps in people 65 and older, a new study finds.

Virtual colonoscopy, also called CT colonography, uses virtual-reality technology to produce 3-D images of the patient's colon and rectum. While preferred by many patients, its effectiveness in comparison with invasive colonoscopy has been debated. Patients using CT colonography must undergo a pre-procedure intestinal purge, similar to patients having a traditional colonoscopy.

The new findings, published online Feb. 23 in Radiology, support the effectiveness of CT colonography as a frontline colorectal cancer screening tool for seniors, according to the study's authors.

The findings also come on the heels of two studies, published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, that support the effectiveness of standard (invasive) colonoscopy in spotting colon cancer and saving patients' lives.

In the study, researchers led by Dr. C. Daniel Johnson, of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Ariz., conducted a secondary analysis of data collected in the American College of Radiology Imaging Network's (ACRIN) National CT Colonography Trial.

That study of 2,600 people aged 50 and older compared CT colonography to conventional colonoscopy, which is still considered the gold standard. In findings that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, CT colonography detected 90 percent of polyps measuring 1 centimeter in diameter or larger, which are most likely to become cancerous. The technique was also highly accurate in detecting polyps as small as one-half centimeter.

However, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has deferred coverage for CT colonography, primarily due to a lack of data on its effectiveness in patients 65 and older.'/>"/>

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