PHILADELPHIA—Computerized tomographic (CT) colonography (CTC), also known as virtual colonoscopy, is comparable to standard colonoscopy in its ability to accurately detect cancer and precancerous polyps in people ages 65 and older, according to a paper published online today in Radiology.
This is consistent with results of the ACRIN National CT colonography Trial, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2008, which demonstrated CT colonography can serve as a primary colorectal cancer screening option for adults ages 50 and older, but did not specifically break out data for participants ages 65 and older included in the overall analysis. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has deferred coverage for CT colonography primarily citing a lack of data on the exam’s performance in Medicare-eligible recipients ages 65 and older.
“Our goal in carrying out this secondary analysis was to determine if the accuracy of CT colonography to detect polyps of clinical concern in patients 65 and older is comparable to the test’s accuracy for the 50 and over population studied in the 2008 ACRIN trial," said C. Daniel Johnson, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ and principal investigator of the National CT Colonography Trial and the paper’s primary author. "We found no significant difference in the screening exam’s performance between the two age groups. CT colonography is a perfectly viable colorectal cancer screening tool for the traditional Medicare age population. Wider availability made possible by Medicare coverage of CT colonography would attract more seniors to be screened for colorectal cancer—which is so successfully treated when detected early. Making CT colonography more available to seniors ultimately could save lives," summarizes Johnson.