- Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States
- It is estimated that a 150,000 new cases of colon cancer are detected each year in the U.S.
- It is estimated that between 50,000 to 55,000 Americans will die from Colon Cancer each year in the U.S.
- Colon Cancer is more than 90% preventable through early screening
- Less than 50% of the over 50 year old age group in the U.S. is getting screened for colorectal cancer using any of the methods described below
- Generally speaking it takes up to 10 years for a colonic polyp to grow to a size with a high likelihood of becoming a cancer.
- Timely and accurate patient screening with subsequent polyp removal can prevent over 90% of malignant colorectal cancers.
- As a result, recommendations have been made for large scale screening programs for persons beginning at the age of 50.
Current screening methods include:
- Digital rectal examination
- Fecal occult blood test
- Double contrast barium enema,
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy - Last 1/3 of colon only
- optical colonoscopy
- Virtual Colonoscopy also know as CT Colonography
The first three tests offer very low sensitivity in cases not finding precancerous polyps 50% of the time. Optical Colonoscopy has been the gold standard but requires sedation and the insertion of a long tube into the colon. It also carries the risk of perforation and other complications. Many patients consider optical colonoscopy unpleasant and choose not to be screened at all. In fact, less than 50% of the over 50 age group in the U.S. is getting screened using any of the methods described above.
Virtual colonoscopy is a procedure utilizing abdominal and pelvic CT images and a computer visualization system to identify polyps by navigating within a reconstructed 3-D model of the colon.
The patient undergoes a low residue bowel preparation in instances much easier than an optical prep. After inflating the colon with carbon dioxide (better tolerated than room air) introduced through a small rectal tube, spiral CT images are then taken in seconds (by breath holding) yielding in advanced image segmentation that creates a clean 3-D colon reconstruction of the colon and computer graphics enables navigation through it.
For the past 10 years the Viatronix V3Dô-Colon, specially designed for performing virtual colonoscopy has been used in multiple clinical trials. The results of these clinical trials have more than proven that virtual colonoscopy is just as effective as optical colonoscopy and in some instances even better than optical colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening.
The CT scans for virtual colonoscopy are done with low dosage radiation. This radiation is can be less than a third when compared to the outdated double contrast barium enema. It is almost similar to the background radiation that people absorb when living at high altitudes. There is no study that has shown any harmful effects from low dosage radiation.
Virtual colonoscopy has been endorsed as a front line screening method by the American Cancer Society. CPT codes for reimbursement have been issued by the American Medical Association. Private insurance carriers have begun coverage for virtual colonoscopy in more than 50% of the States. It is already being widely adopted worldwide.
Virtual colonoscopy compliments screening optical colonoscopy by increasing the overall screening capacity. VC offers a cost effective alternative for patients who shun invasive optical colonoscopy.
In the United States and countries around the globe there is a shortage of GI capacity to screen the over 50 years of age population. Virtual colonoscopy has the potential to drastically increase screening, and aid physicians by offering faster and easier options for colorectal cancer treatment.