The United States Prevention Services Task Force has opened for public comment a draft research plan for colorectal cancer screening, a process that could lead to Medicare reimbursement of CT colonography (CTC), also known as virtual colonoscopy.
Organizations such as the American College of Radiology and the Colon Cancer Alliance have long backed efforts to gain Medicare coverage for virtual colonoscopy. What's more, in a meeting last September, the FDA's Gastroenterology-Urology Devices Panel and Radiological Devices Panel found that virtual colonoscopy is a viable option for screening asymptomatic patients over the age of 50 for colon cancer.
Additionally, the American Cancer Society endorses virtual colonoscopy as a screening option, and insurance companies like Cigna, UnitedHealthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield cover it.
Judy Yee, professor and vice chair of radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California, San Francisco, told AuntMinnie.com last week that ACR is pleased to see USPSTF revisiting the issue.
"There has been a tremendous amount of research published in recent years that supports the use of CT colonography in colorectal cancer screening," Yee said. "The ACR will submit comments to USPSTF. We look forward to working with the USPSTF and other colorectal cancer stakeholders to advance this process."
The draft research plan proposes that a number of questions be reviewed, including:
- What is the effectiveness of screening programs--based on screening tests (alone or in combination) such as colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, CTC and fecal screening tests--in reducing the incidence of and mortality from colorectal cancer?
- What are the adverse effects associated with these screening tests (either as a single application or in a screening program)?
Those groups or individuals looking to comment on the draft research plan have until Feb. 5 to do so.