Why Colorectal Cancer Screening Matters

Judy Yee, MD, FACR, University Chair of Radiology at Montefiore, Professor of Radiology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York and Chair of the American College of Radiology® (ACR®) Colon Cancer Committee, contributed this piece.

Colorectal cancer is the overall second leading cause of cancer death considering men and women together in the United States.

Every March, we pause to reflect on the 149,000 Americans diagnosed with colorectal cancer and the 52,000 who will die from this disease yearly. More importantly, we contemplate how we can reduce both of those numbers.

This year, that task is made even harder, as we’re faced with the added challenge of nearly 19,000 Americans who may have their diagnosis delayed as a result of screening tests postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s time for patients to #ReturnToCare and get screened. Colorectal cancer is nearly always treatable, if caught early, and can even be prevented through timely screening.

The government now requires insurance companies to cover not only colonoscopy — but also CT Colonography (CTC), also known as “virtual colonoscopy,” and other less-invasive exams. CTC is a great option for patients “on the go,” as it does not require sedation and is over in minutes. Patients are able to resume daily activities immediately and can even drive themselves home from their appointment. This also makes CTC a great option when there is limited waiting room space during the pandemic. The more people are aware of these less-invasive tests, the more people choose to be screened and the more lives can be saved.  

How can we — as radiologists — help more patients get screened? In addition to encouraging patients and referring providers to discuss all available screening options, ensure your facility is registered in the ACR My CT Colonography locator tool. Patients and referring providers can use this tool to quickly locate the nearest CTC screening facility. 

Please consult the ACR Colon Cancer Screening Resources for additional information and encourage your patients to learn more at RadiologyInfo.org/VirtualCT.

  • Join the conversation all month long on social media using hashtags #VirtualCT, #CTColonography and #ColorectalCancerAwareness, and by following @RadiologyACR on Twitter.

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