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Virtual colonoscopy shows significant promise as colorectal cancer screening option

Bethesda, Maryland (Dec. 1, 2004) A future trends report published recently in the American Gastroenterological Association's journal Gastroenterology, concluded that CT colonography (often referred to as "virtual colonoscopy") has significant promise. However, the technology is still evolving and the results of CT colonography for screening are variable.

Guidelines of multiple agencies and professional societies underscore the importance of screening for all individuals 50 years of age and older. Currently, there are a number of tests that may be used to screen for colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Approved tests include barium enema, fecal occult blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy. Each screening option has advantages and disadvantages.

"No colorectal cancer screening test is perfect. CT colonography is currently not the most accurate or convenient test, but may in the future be included in the mix of colorectal cancer screening options available to patients and physicians," says AGA President Emmet B. Keeffe, MD. "While the virtual aspect of the test sounds appealing, it isn't a panacea. CT colonography is associated with discomfort and still requires rigorous preparation, often the most daunting challenge to compliance. Many practical issues still need to be addressed, including standardization of test performance, patient preparation and interpretation of test results before CT colonography can be recommended for routine clinical practice. The shortage of radiologists in the country confounds the issue of training a sufficient supply of physicians able to deliver care to patients on a widespread and consistent basis."

As a service to AGA members and their patients, the AGA assembled a task force of gastroenterologists, radiologists and epidemiologists to undertake a critical analysis of available information on the capabilities of CT colonography and to conside
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Contact: Kimberly Wise
media@gastro.org
301-941-2620
American Gastroenterological Association
1-Dec-2004


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