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Virtual colonoscopy -- a new technology for colorectal cancer screening?
Date:10/2/2007

Bethesda, MD (October 1, 2007) Colorectal cancer is one of the deadliest but most preventable causes of death in the United States. The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute supports clinically proven technologies that increase the number of patients who are screened for the disease.

At the American College of Radiology Imaging Network meeting on September 28, researchers presented results from the National CT Colonography Trial. This study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), indicated that computerized tomographic colonography (CTC), or virtual colonoscopy, may be a viable option for colorectal cancer screening. The AGA Institute awaits the publication of the study results.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths and affects men and women equally. Optical colonoscopy, the gold standard technique for colorectal cancer screening, has the advantage of offering both diagnostic and therapeutic options for patients. If a polyp or lesion is discovered during CT colonography, the patient must then undergo an optical colonoscopy to remove the lesion.

There is a large number of patients who need colorectal cancer screening but put off the test. CT colonography may encourage reluctant patients to talk with their doctors about screening, notes Robert S. Sandler, MD, MPH, AGAF, president-elect of the AGA Institute. Virtual colonoscopy or CT colonography isnt yet widely accepted for all indications, paid for by Medicare or reimbursed by most insurance companies. However, its never too early for patients to begin discussing colon cancer screening with their physician and to determine the screening method that is most appropriate for them. Many patients will prefer the definitive optical colonoscopy.

In September, the AGA Institute issued standards for the performance of virtual colonoscopy. The AGA Institute will host a course on CT Colonography on March 7-8, 2008, in Wa
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Contact: Aimee Frank
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
Source:Eurekalert

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