Virtual colonoscopy is an effective screening tool for older patients with colorectal cancer, reported researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

In a study of an older screening group, patients aged 65-79 years old, researchers analyzed performance and program outcome of various computed tomographic colonography (CTC) and found that the procedure was a safe and effective colorectal cancer screening tool for the older individual. The study also revealed that there was no significant difference in the way CTC performed in older patients as compared with younger patients.

“The lack of complications, particularly no perforations, attests to the safety of this procedure even in the older population,” explained David Kim, MD, principal investigator of the study. “Given what we know of the increasing risk for complications for optical colonoscopy in older patients, perhaps we such consider CT colonography more strongly in this particular group.”

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According to the press release announcing the findings, the vast majority of those ≥ 50 years old who should be screened for the disease are not being tested—possibly due to the cost, inconvenience, and safety concerns associated with current screening exams.

“This study shows that CTC is a viable screening exam in all age groups. We are hopeful, now that the remaining questions regarding older patients have been answered, patients will have wider access to the CTC, more will be screened for colorectal cancer, and more lives can be saved as a result,” Dr Kim concluded.

The study’s findings were published in Radiology (2010;254[2]:493-500).