This post was contributed by Judy Yee, MD, chair of the American College of Radiology Colon Cancer Committee.
A new study in Radiology shows insurance coverage for virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography – CTC) boosts colorectal cancer (CRC) screening nearly 50 percent. This echoes studies in the U.S. and Europe that show improved access to CTC leads to more screening.
This is vital. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in men and women. It is most often diagnosed in those ages 65–74. Yet, at least a third of those 50 and older who should be screened choose not to be tested.
Better screening is what the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) wanted when it assigned an “A” grade to virtual colonoscopy and other CRC screening exams.
With this “A” grade, federal law requires private insurers to cover these exams with no copay. Most already do. Yet, Medicare does not.
The ACR is working with multiple medical societies, patient groups, industry and minority health care advocates to change this. It’s time:
- Studies in NEJM and elsewhere show it is as accurate as regular colonoscopy in those at average CRC risk. This is most people.
- It is less expensive than colonoscopy
- A study of Medicare-aged patients shows no short- or long-term complications from CTC
To make this American Cancer Society recommended screening exam more available, the effort needs data. We also need your help to let patients know that CTC is an insured CRC screening option that they should consider.
- Practices can visit this BRACCO Diagnostics site* if they want to share whether they offer CTC. This data can inform future efforts to ensure patient access to CTC.
- Send your patients to RadiologyInfo.org/VirtualCT for more CTC information.
- Visit the ACR CT Colonography Resources section for coverage information and patient education tools.
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*This link goes to an industry-maintained database. ACR does not maintain the site.