Canadian Cancer Society Welcomes BC Colorectal Cancer Screening Program

VANCOUVER, Nov. 5, 2012 /CNW/ - A new province-wide colorectal cancer screening program, announced today by the BC Ministry of Health, is welcome news for the Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon.

The Society has been advocating for a colorectal cancer screening program for several years due to convincing evidence that the death rate from colorectal cancer can be reduced significantly if screening takes place widely across Canada. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men and women combined, but it is highly treatable if detected early.

"We are very pleased that a provincial colorectal cancer screening program will be in place this spring," says Barbara Kaminsky, CEO, Canadian Cancer Society, BC and Yukon. "We know that colorectal cancer screening works and that lives will be saved by using this proven and effective early detection method."

The Canadian Cancer Society estimates that in 2012, 2,850 British Columbians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 1,150 will die of it. In May 2011, the Society estimated that if 80 per cent of Canadians aged 50 and older were screened every two years, 10,000 to 15,000 colorectal cancer deaths could be prevented over the next 10 years.

Most colorectal cancers grow slowly and predictably and do not cause signs or symptoms until the cancer reaches an advanced stage. As a result, regular screening and detection is critical. The Society recommends that men and women age 50 and over have a stool test at least every two years. Stool tests help identify polyps before they become cancerous.

"An organized province-wide program for early detection of colorectal cancer is a great step forward for British Columbians," says Kaminsky. "We look forward to working with the provincial government to have even greater impact by expanding our prevention initiatives with more research, healthy public policies and programs into the future."

The new coordinated provincial screening program builds on a pilot program that has been operating since 2009 in a number of BC communities. General practitioners will refer people without symptoms between 50 and 74 years of age for stool tests (fecal immunochemical tests) once every two years. A centralized system for data collection and monitoring will be in place to assess patient usage and outcomes.

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. Last year, the Society funded more than $46 million in leading-edge research projects across the country. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website at www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

SOURCE: Canadian Cancer Society (BC and Yukon Division)

For further information:

Sheila Dong
Manager, Media Relations
C: 604.802.2321
T: 604.675.7365
E: sdong@bc.cancer.ca