Non-Invasive Screenings for Colorectal Cancer Should Encourage More Americans to Pursue Routine Testing, Advocates Say

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, an ideal time for payers to recognize the value of CT Colonography to patients and the healthcare delivery system.

Washington, DC, March 13, 2019 --( Even with more than one million colon cancer survivors in the United States today, healthcare advocates say more Americans should utilize advanced technologies to catch colorectal cancers early – when they are most treatable.

“Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month is a good reminder of the importance of colon cancer screenings. We hope anyone who might find themselves hesitant to undergo colon cancer screening will speak to their healthcare provider about all of the screening options available,” said Dennis Durmis, Chair of the MITA Board of Directors. “It’s essential that Americans are aware of not only their risk factors but also the various technologies that can help them get the recommended screenings to remain healthy and cancer-free.”

Even though colorectal cancers remain the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States, one in three Americans are still not up-to-date on their recommended routine screenings, and 23 million Americans have not been screened at all. Colon cancer has a 90 percent cure rate when treated early.

In addition to home-based tests, CT Colonography (CTC) is an important, non-invasive method by which Americans can undergo colon cancer screenings. Unlike optical colonoscopies – which are invasive and require anesthesia – a CTC allows physicians to visualize the entire colon via a high-resolution CT scan. Patients can remain awake, experience fewer complications, and are not required to miss work or other activities because of the effects of anesthesia. A radiology technologist can perform CTC with the scan interpreted by a radiologist at another site – an advantage for patients in underserved areas who are disproportionately under-screened.

“One of the greatest roadblocks the colon cancer community faces is patients’ hesitancy to undergo optical colonoscopy because of the invasive nature of the exam and anesthesia requirements,” continued Durmis. “It’s incredibly exciting that other, non-invasive options exist. However, it’s incumbent upon payers, including Medicare, to reimburse appropriately for this technology to improve screening compliance.”

According to researchers, despite CTC patient-centered advantages, including its ability to identify pre-cancerous areas and early cancers, less than one percent of colorectal cancer screens in 2015 were performed via CTC. CTC has also been shown to be less costly for insurers, resulting from a less expensive procedure and bowel preparation costs, no need for anesthesia and pathology services, and fewer complications like colon perforation, significant bleeding, and infection. Even when patients have to be referred for a follow-up optical colonoscopy due to positive CTC findings, the overall cost remains lower than the traditional alternative.

The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45 via stool-based tests or a visual exam, like CTC. People at increased or high risk of colorectal cancer – like those with a family history, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or a personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer – might need to start colorectal cancer screening before age 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests.

The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA), a division of NEMA, is the collective voice of medical imaging equipment manufacturers, innovators, and product developers. It represents companies whose sales comprise more than 90 percent of the global market for advanced medical imaging technology. Visit Follow MITA on Twitter @MITAToday.­­­­
Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance
Tracy Cullen