March 25, 2016

CT Colonography Featured During Colon Cancer Month

To increase public awareness of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and its Colon Cancer Committee capitalized on numerous opportunities to advocate for CT colonography (CTC) in March, Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

Committee members lit up the airwaves across the United States with help from an ACR-sponsored radio media tour that reached 4 million listeners. Members explained CTC’s benefits, exam preparation and the need for national Medicare coverage. CTC was highlighted as an effective and less invasive screening test than conventional invasive colonoscopy for early colorectal cancer diagnosis.

Support for CTC got a boost in Congress with the introduction of the CT Colonography Screening for Colorectal Cancer Act, which seeks Medicare coverage for CTC. Patient advocacy support from Colon Cancer Alliance, Chris4Life Colon Cancer Foundation, Prevent Cancer Foundation, Colon Cancer Coalition and Fight Colorectal Cancer were featured in a joint press release describing growing support for the bill. An ACR Call to Action in March stirred additional interest on Capitol Hill.

Additional coordinated committee activities performed with public affairs team support included:
  • Updates to the ACR’s CTC Resources Page
  • A consumer-oriented Virtual Colonoscopy brochure (in Spanish and English)
  • Collaboration with the Radiological Society of North America on an updated Questions & Answers page posted on for patients
  • A YouTube video featuring Cecelia Brewington, MD, who provided a step-by-step description of virtual colonoscopy for health care consumers
  • ACR Voice of Radiology blogs delivering positive messages about CTC from Mark Klein, MD, and Colon Cancer Committee Chair Judy Yee, MD, FACR
At the Society of Abdominal Radiology Annual Meeting also in March, Colon Cancer Committee members emphasized the value of CTC screening technology in advancing the goal of increasing colorectal cancer screening rates and reducing the mortality rate in colorectal cancer patients. However, adoption of CTC has been limited by obstacles posed by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The USPSTF draft recommendation and “A” rating for colorectal cancer screening in adults ages 50-75 years, omitted specific ratings for individual screening techniques including CTC. The ACR Colon Cancer Committee members have submitted formal comments requesting the USPSTF recognize and move CTC forward as a recommended test for colorectal cancer screening for adults ages 50-75 and older.

A final USPSTF CRC screening recommendation will possibly be released by Summer 2015. Under terms of the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, private health insurance providers would be obligated to offer CTC as standard coverage after a positive USPSTF recommendation with an A/B rating.

Despite clinical trials demonstrating diagnostic equivalency between CTC and invasive colonoscopy, CMS cited inadequate clinical evidence in 2009 to decide against a National Coverage Determination for CTC. The ACR and Colon Cancer Committee leadership believe the time is now for CMS to reconsider its ruling.

Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. and the third leading cause of cancer death, despite a 90 percent cure rate with early detection. Over 140,000 Americans are diagnosed with CRC and nearly 50,000 die from the disease annually.

Fewer than half of adults 50 years of age and older comply with recommended screenings based on USPSTF recommended screening options. Providing patients with another effective screening tool for colorectal cancer will promote its early detection and will save thousands of lives through earlier treatment.

CTC is endorsed by the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force and the ACR as a recommended test for CRC screening.

Readers are encouraged to direct questions regarding the Colon Cancer Committee and CTC to the ACR’s Anita McGlothlin or Kathryn Keysor.