In a study of 2,277 patients who underwent virtual colonoscopy, almost half were found to have some suspicious lesions outside the colon. Further testing showed that 240 of those lesions were considered medically significant, such as being some type of cancer. After further evaluation, 19 surgeries were performed to identify six cancers (one lymphoma, three renal cell cancers and two lung cancers) and one aortic aneurysm.
The obvious problem with this approach, however, is the extra cost of having to explore suspicious lesions outside the colon (that may turn out to be nothing significant) and the resulting anxiety felt by patients who have to undergo further testing. The study's authors suggest that the minimal additional cost may be worth it to identify other types of cancer.
The study was released Friday in the American Journal of Roentgenology.