USPSTF Colorectal Cancer Screening Recommendations Include CT Colonography

Among the shortest lists ever written is surely “People Looking Forward to Their Next Colonoscopy.” The standard screening for colon cancer involves bowel purging with laxatives as preparation and an intimate probing of some of the body’s most private recesses. Colon cancer is one of the deadliest cancers, yet can be prevented if the precursor polyp is identified in time and removed.

Dr. Judy Yee, vice chair of UCSF’s Department of Radiology and chief of Radiology at the San Francisco VA Medical Center, knew there had to be a better alternative to traditional colonoscopy. Her research led her to a novel technique called virtual colonoscopy or CT colonography, which images the colon from the outside to get a view of abnormalities. Dr. Yee is a nationally recognized expert in CT colonography and, through her position as chair of the American College of Radiology’s Colon Cancer Committee, has fought on behalf of annual preventative colorectal cancer screening for insurance reimbursement for CT Colonography in patients age 50 and older.

Last week, the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) released a final recommendation statement on colorectal cancer screening. The report notes the benefits of screening and early intervention, recommending annual screening for individuals age 50 to 75 years. Annual screening for colorectal cancer, which has support from Dr. Yee and the American College of Radiology, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, and other health organizations, has been given an “A” rating by the USPSTF. The report concludes with high certainty that "screening for colorectal cancer in average-risk, asymptomatic adults aged 50 to 75 years is of substantial net benefit. Screening for colorectal cancer is a substantially underused preventive health strategy in the United States.” The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that private insurers must cover all screening tests recognized by the USPSTF and this now includes CTC. This will make CTC accessible to more patients and will ultimately help save lives.

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