CT Colonography Effective, But Not Covered

Armen Hareyan's picture
CT Colonography and health insurance coverage

American Cancer Society expresses its dissapointment that CT Colonography will not be covered by Medicare and Medicaid and says CT colonography (CTC) is as effective as optical colonoscopy for the early detection of early cancers.

Below is a comment from Otis W. Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, on today's announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that CT colonography (CTC) will not be covered by Medicare and Medicaid:


"I am disappointed in this decision, as randomized clinical trials clearly show CT colonography (CTC) is as effective as optical colonoscopy for the early detection of early cancers and premalignant lesions. Medicare coverage for CTC, also known as virtual colonoscopy, would have provided an additional option for colorectal cancer screening. Additional options are absolutely necessary as the supply of gastroenterologists is currently inadequate to supply optical colonoscopy to all of those who need it. It is our belief that by increasing the proportion of Americans 50 and over who get colorectal cancer screening, we could increase the number of lives saved from this devastating disease and decrease long term medical costs.

"The American Cancer Society still believes that a battery of different tests for colorectal cancer screening should be available to the American people. This includes optical colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, stool blood testing, as well as sigmoidoscopy."

Lack of health insurance coverage for certain types of health care procedures has become a worrying issue for the most Americans. In fact a recent survey from The Spectrum Health Value Study shows that access to health care is the number one priority for the most Americans.



The Colon Cancer Alliance is extremely disappointed that the Center for Medicaid Services (CMS) opted to deny coverage for CT Colonography (CTC), commonly known as virtual colonoscopy. CTC has proven to be a very effective method of early detection and prevention of colon cancer. This decision now leaves millions of older Americans exposed to a higher risk of colon cancer. It also exacerbates an unequal standard of care between Medicare beneficiaries, who do not have the choice to undergo a virtual colonoscopy, and those with private insurance who do. Making virtual colonoscopy more easily available as an alternative to standard colonoscopy would be an important tool that ultimately motivates more Americans 50-plus (45 in certain minorities) to undergo a screening they might otherwise skip. Improved access to virtual colonoscopy has the potential to increase screening rates enough to save both lives and money. America's seniors deserve better. We urge CMS to immediately re-open a coverage decision so it can consider additional data pertaining to the age 65 and above population." Andrew Spiegel Chief Executive Officer Colon Cancer Alliance (202) 434-8996 office www.ccalliance.org