News | September 17, 2008

Study in NEJM Shows Value of Virtual Colonoscopy

September 18, 2008 – The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance (MITA) said today that the results of the National CT Colonography Trial, published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, demonstrate the vast benefits of virtual colonoscopy (VC) as an important tool for colon cancer screening.

“Access to proper diagnostic equipment such as virtual colonoscopy is imperative to the detection and treatment of colon cancer,” said Maureen Zilly, director, Government Relations, MITA. “MITA applauds the work of Dr. Johnson and his team, whose definitive study reminds us of how critical it is that patients and their doctors have access to life-saving, noninvasive medical imaging technology, enabling them to benefit from the right scan at the right time in fighting serious disease such as colon cancer."

The study, which was led by C. Daniel Johnson, M.D., of the Mayo Clinic and funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), analyzed data from 2,531 asymptomatic participants in 15 centers across the country, making it the largest and most comprehensive VC trial to date.

The purpose of the study was to measure VC sensitivity for detecting adenoma growths one centimeter or larger in diameter, with standard colonoscopy serving as a reference point. The results were impressive, with VC demonstrating a 90 percent per-patient sensitivity rate – comparable to that of standard optical colonoscopy. In addition, because only 8.3 percent of patients would have required an additional, same-day optical colonoscopy for removal of polyps 6mm or larger, VC was shown to be highly effective.

“Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America, yet recent statistics show that only a third of Americans eligible for screening ever get tested,” said Tim Turnham, CEO of the Colon Cancer Alliance. "We hope this research, which shows virtual colonoscopy screening to be equally as effective as other traditional, more invasive procedures, will encourage more individuals to go out and get screened.”

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