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VA Connecticut Healthcare System

 

VA launches study to help reduce colorectal cancer risks

August 8, 2013

Connecticut one of 42 sites involved in CONFIRM study

West Haven, Conn. – Veterans and others who are due for colorectal cancer screening may benefit from research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  A study, CSP #577: Colonoscopy vs. Fecal Immunochemical Test in Reducing Mortality from Colorectal Cancer (CONFIRM), that is being sponsored by VA’s Cooperative Studies Program, will evaluate the comparative effectiveness of screening colonoscopy and fecal immunochemical  testings (FIT) for the reduction of colorectal cancer mortality in average risk adults.

The study is led nationally by gastroenterologists Jason A. Dominitz, MD, MHS - VA Puget Sound Health Care System, and Douglas J. Robertson, MD, MPH – White River Junction VA Medical Center.

VA Connecticut Healthcare System is one of 42 VA sites participating in the study. The CONFIRM study aims to enroll 1,250 veterans at VA Connecticut and a total of 50,000 Veterans at all the participating VA sites.  The study will have a 2 ½ year recruitment period followed by a by a 10-year follow-up period. At the time of enrollment, study participants will be randomized into one of two screening arms in which they will receive a one-time colonoscopy or an annual FIT test.  If the FIT test is positive, then a follow-up colonoscopy is recommended.

“This is one of the largest VA intervention trials and first U.S. randomized trial examining the efficacy of colonoscopy.  This landmark study will determine which screening strategy, colonoscopy or FIT, is more effective in reducing death from colorectal cancer,” VA Connecticut Healthcare System local site investigator, Petr Protiva, MD, MHS said.  “The VA is the only sponsor to perform a randomized controlled trial of screening colonoscopy in the U.S.”

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is a major health problem within the VA, with approximately 4,000 Veterans being diagnosed with the condition each year within VA facilities. While some groups endorse colonoscopy as the preferred CRC screening strategy, recent increased attention has been given to the procedure’s limitations, risks, expense, and actual efficacy.

During colonoscopy, a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope is passed through the anus into the colon for examination. In contrast, the FIT is an immunochemical test that utilizes standard antibody/antigen type testing to detect minute amounts of blood in the stool as a marker of increased risk for colorectal cancer. The VA performs approximately 200,000 colonoscopies a year, although not all are performed for screening.

VA Connecticut study coordinator, Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D., adds, “Health care providers, medical facilities, and policymakers are facing increased scrutiny and pressure to improve healthcare quality and simultaneously reduce its costs; the findings from this research will have implications on each of these issues throughout the United States and abroad.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about how to participate in CONFIRM may contact Raeleen Mautner, Ph.D. at 203-932-5711 extension 7232 or RaeleenMautner@va.gov.

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Media Inquiries: Contact Pamela Redmond at Pamela.Redmond@va.gov or 203-937-3824 to arrange interviews with the local site investigator or local study coordinator.