Colonoscopy Options to Increase Screening for African-Americans

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The benefits of screening and early detection for colorectal cancer are well known, but still far too many people are forgoing screenings that have been proven to save lives. Dr. Mary Harris interviews Dr. Beth McFarland of the American College of Radiology about new virtual screening technologies for colon cancer, as well as the risks and treatment options for African-Americans.

An informal questionnaire by the Colon Cancer Alliance earlier this year found that fear was the No. 1 reason older adults gave to explain why they hadn't been screened for colon cancer, some of which stems from uneasiness with having to go under general anesthesia.

Data has found that African Americans, in particular, are far less likely to get colonoscopies than other populations and have a 48 percent higher mortality rate from colon cancer than whites.

Fortunately, patients have options when it comes to catching colon cancer early. Computed Tomographic Colonography (CTC), or virtual colonoscopy, is a minimally invasive alternative to a standard colonoscopy that uses virtual reality technology to produce a 3-D visualization.  Offering CTC as an alternative can increase screening rates and save lives:

By ensuring patients have options to the most innovative health care services, we can increase screening rates for those at the greatest risk of colorectal cancer, those over the age of 50 - in particular African American populations - and a great majority of these cancers and deaths could be prevented.

 

 

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Dr. McFarland has a national reputation for her work in CT colonography research and health care policy. Her early NCI funded work in CT colonography evaluated the diagnostic performance of CT colonography in well characterized cohorts, along with technical evaluation of the CT techniques. She chaired the American College of Radiology colon cancer committee from 2007 to 2009 and was involved with the revision of the ACR practice guidelines of CTC, reimbursement with CMS and private payors and CPT coding for Category I codes for CTC. She has served on multiple multidisciplinary workgroups of the American Gastroenterology Association (AGA), AMA, and ACS. In 2006-2008, she led the radiology efforts with the American Cancer Society five year colorectal screening guidelines. She also has been active in the AUR, serving on the Board of Directors and chair of the Philips AUR Junior Faculty Development Program from 2003 to 2008.

 

Dr. McFarland recently joined SSM Radiological Imaging Consultants since 2010. She previously was part of Diagnostic Imaging Associates of St. Luke’s Hospital and Center for Diagnostic Imaging from 2004 to 2009. She served as the medical director of Center of Diagnostic Imaging. She had been at Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology for ten years and was Associate Professor of Radiology. Dr. McFarland continued active work as an Adjunct professor at Washington University from 2004 to 2008.

She completed her residency in radiology and fellowship in abdominal imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. She completed her internship at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in internal medicine. She received her doctorate degree from the University of California, San Diego, where she received various honors and awards as a distinguished student of medicine. She received her undergraduate degree in biological sciences from the University of California, Irvine, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.

 

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