The call comes in the wake of a new analysis of data from the 2008 National CT Colonography Trial (ACRIN 6664) that found no significant differences in the diagnostic performance of virtual colonoscopy (also known as CT colonography or CTC) in older individuals versus younger ones. The study was published online in Radiology (February 23, 2012).
"The study confirms that the 'virtual' exam is comparably effective to standard colonoscopy at detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps in older seniors," the ACR said. "Due to these results, those of a landmark 2008 study in the New England Journal of Medicine involving patients ages 50 and older, and the multitude of trials with similar positive outcomes since, the Colon Cancer Alliance and American College of Radiology call on Medicare to cover seniors for virtual colonoscopy."
The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has indicated it was waiting for data proving CTC is as effective as traditional colonoscopy for Medicare beneficiaries, according to MITA.
"Now that there is definitive proof that a virtual colonoscopy is as effective as the optical exam for Medicare beneficiaries and it reduces barriers to colorectal cancer screenings, CMS should open a national coverage decision for CTC so that more American seniors have access to tools to diagnose colon cancer early when it's most treatable," MITA said.