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ACR Supports American Cancer Society Inclusion of CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) as Recommended Screening Tool for Colorectal Cancer in New Screening Guidelines
Date:3/5/2008

PHILADELPHIA, March 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American College of Radiology concurs with the American Cancer Society (ACS) that the latest published research and preliminary results of recently completed trials support the inclusion of Computed Tomographic Colonography (CTC) -- also known as virtual colonoscopy -- as a front-line screening exam for colorectal cancer.

In the first-ever joint consensus guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, released jointly by the ACS, ACR, and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer (a group that comprises representatives from the American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy), CTC now is included as one of several options for colorectal cancer screening and prevention in average-risk adults age 50 years and older and recommended to be received once every five years.

CT colonography employs cutting-edge, virtual reality technology to produce three-dimensional "fly through" images that permit a thorough and minimally invasive evaluation of the entire colorectal structure. No sedation is required for the exam, allowing patients to resume normal activity, including driving, immediately after the procedure.

Since most colon cancers develop from polyps, and screening to find and remove these polyps can prevent colon cancer, an enormous opportunity exists to save lives with early detection. Yet, despite the known benefits of screening, studies indicate that the majority of Americans aged 50 and older are not being screened for the disease.

"CT colonography, as a minimally invasive exam, can potentially encourage many more people to choose to be screened for colorectal cancer. This could result in early detection of the disease for more patients, increasing the chance of successful treatment, and potentially reduce colorectal cancer deaths nationwide," said Arl Van Moore Jr., M.D., FACR, chair of the ACR Board of Chancellors.

Results of the National CT Colonography Trial coordinated by the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN) and presented at the 2007 ACRIN Fall Meeting suggest CTC is comparable to optical colonoscopy for the detection of cancer and clinically significant polyps when state-of-the-art techniques are applied and images are read by radiologists trained in the procedure. Results of the ACRIN trial are expected to be published later this spring.

To ensure acceptable, consistent levels of performance, quality assurance measures should be implemented by all providers who offer this test. The American College of Radiology has published practice guidelines for CTC, and has outlined practice-based quality metrics.

"Radiologists are undergoing the latest training and education to remain at the cutting edge of this technology. The ACR has taken, and continues to take, steps to standardize the performance and interpretation of this exam nationwide, in order to ensure that patients receive the highest quality care," said Moore.

The ACR will open an interactive hands-on training facility for CTC and other cutting-edge imaging procedures. CTC training courses will begin in April 2008. A process for individual certification and proficiency is being evaluated.

"The ACR urges patients to begin being screened for colorectal cancer at age 50 and we strongly urge Medicare and private insurance companies to support screening efforts by reimbursing appropriately for CT colonography," said Moore.

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer death in the United States.

The full ACS guidelines can be viewed at http://caonline.amcancersoc.org/

For further information about the ACRIN National CT Colonography Trial, please visit http://www.acrin.org/TabID/151/Default.aspx.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) is a national professional organization serving more than 32,000 diagnostic radiologists, radiation oncologists, interventional radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists, with programs focusing on the practice of radiology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.


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SOURCE American College of Radiology
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