This study looks at whether both exams are as effective for adults over 65 as they are for adults between 50 and 65 years of age.
In the study Doctor C. Daniel Johnson of Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona, and a team of researchers conducted a follow-up analysis of data from the National CT Colonography Trial, in which 2,600 patients over the age of 50 underwent both virtual and optical colonoscopies at 15 centres around the country.
Johnson's team analysed trial data from 477 patients over the age of 65 and 2,054 patients between the ages of 50 and 65 who were screened with the two procedures for clinically significant pre-cancerous growths called polyps. Patients in the study were comprised of both men and women at predominantly an average risk for colorectal cancer.
Cancerous lesions 1 centimetre or larger were found in 6.9 per cent of patients in the 65 and older group and in 3.7 per cent of the younger patients.
There was no significant difference in the accuracy of CT colonography for the detection of large and intermediate-sized cancers in the older participants compared to the younger participants. Sensitivity and specificity among the older and younger groups were 0.82 and 0.83 and 0.92 and 0.86, respectively.
"We found no statistical difference in the diagnostic performance between the two patient groups," Johnson said. "This is good information for patients of any age, as they can consider CT colonography as a valid option for colorectal cancer screening."
Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), a decline in colorectal cancer incidence rates over the last two decades is largely attributable to screening tests that allow polyps to be removed before they progress to cancer.
"I do not believe there is any screening test that can intervene as early in the biology of the tumor as colorectal cancer screening," Johnson said. "We have the opportunity to detect pre-malignant polyps, remove them and prevent an entire class of cancers."
MEDICA.de; Source: Radiological Society of North America