October 10, 2018

Forbes Column Exhorts CMS to Cover CTC Screening

Forbes Magazine recently presented well-reasoned arguments from three respected radiologists who asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) to stop its foot-dragging and grant coverage for CT Colonography (CTC) – also called virtual colonoscopy – for colon cancer screening. 

In their Forbes column, Mark E. Klein, MD, FACR, and co-authors Perry J. Pickhardt, MD, and Matthew A. Barish, MD, FACR, FSAR, wrote that the American Cancer Society’s May 30, 2018, decision to lower the recommended first year for colon cancer screening to age 45 increases the need for universal coverage of CTC as an alternative to traditional colonoscopy. Their list of advantages of CTC over conventional colonoscopy included the following:

  • Non-invasiveness
  • Improved patient safety
  • Lower financial costs
  • Faster recovery and less work disruption
  • Equivalent diagnostic accuracy
  • Less patient resistance to screening guideline compliance

Klein, Pickhardt and Barish criticized Medicare and Medicaid as the only major holdout among payers that nearly universally cover virtual colonography. And, they argued CMS’s concerns about incidental findings with CTC should be considered clinical benefit, not a detriment to effective testing and appropriate treatment.

“All physicians take an oath to promote the health of their patients – and, of course to do them no harm,” they wrote. “By bringing a safer, better test for colon cancer to its patients, Medicare can do both.”