Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada - Colorectal Cancer Screening - Alberta, it's a Stampede!

    MONTREAL, March 23 /CNW/ - The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada
(CCAC) congratulates the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Ministry of
Health, the Alberta Cancer Board and all those individuals who have worked so
hard to make colorectal cancer screening in Alberta a reality.
    "First it was Ontario, then Manitoba and now Alberta - it's a stampede!"
said Barry D. Stein, president of the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada
(CCAC). "Colorectal cancer screening is finally catching on in Canada and we
will all be the better for it. We are confident that combined with primary
prevention (healthy diet and exercise), this program will decrease mortality
from colorectal cancer."
    "As an Albertan myself, I am thrilled by this announcement" said Dr. Tony
Fields, Chair of the Medical Advisory Board of CCAC and Vice President,
Medical Affairs & Community Oncology, Alberta Cancer Board, "This will mean
fewer Albertans having to fight deadly battles with advanced colorectal cancer
- battles too often lost".
    The Alberta screening program will request residents of the province to
take an annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) to verify for microscopic blood
in their stool, beginning at age 50. It will also recommend that patients at
high risk of developing colorectal cancer, such as those with a family history
of the disease, undergo a colonoscopy. The program will attempt to boost low
participation rates by tracking when a participant had the test performed and
when a follow up test is required.
    This program will take some time to roll out and will increase demand for
colonoscopies on Alberta's already overburdened gastroenterologists. However,
a new colorectal cancer screening centre is expected to open in Calgary this
fall which will almost double the colonoscopy capacity in the region.
    "We hope when the program comes into effect it will help in alleviate
wait times for colonoscopies and the possibility of further bottlenecks from
positive FOBTs," said Stein.
    The success of the screening program will largely depend on the ability
to recruit participants, by educating them about the symptoms of colorectal
cancer and the benefits of screening. In addition, eventual improvements to
the sensitivity and specificity of the test employed in screening will
continue to improve the effectiveness of the program.
    The CCAC has been working hard across Canada to motivate governments to
introduce colorectal cancer screening and sensitize the public to the benefits
of such programs. Efforts will continue and it is hoped that this program will
inspire other provinces to bring into place similar initiatives. At the end of
the day, these programs will not only save lives and permit treatment of
patients at an earlier stage than in the past, but also be economically
advantageous in view of the high cost of treatment in Canada.
    "Alberta must not however forget about those patients who have already
been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. We need to offer patients timely access
to effective treatment in accordance with the treatment guidelines. These
medications should be paid for by the provincial health care system and
unfortunately Alberta is not earning high marks in this department. We hope
that the government of Alberta will change their position on timely access to
effective treatment and ensure that those patients with advanced disease are
afforded the opportunity to receive the most effective medications available
within the health care system," said Stein.
    The CCAC is hosting a National Roundtable Conference on Colorectal Cancer
Screening and Access to treatment on March 28-30 2007 in Montreal in
partnership with Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Partnership
Against Cancer (formerly the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control).


    About colon cancer

    Colorectal cancer - cancer of the colon or rectum - is the second leading
cause of cancer deaths overall in men and women. The disease surpasses both
breast and prostate cancer in mortality, and is second only to lung cancer in
numbers of cancer deaths.
    Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second biggest cancer killer in Alberta
for men and women combined. Approximately, 1,620 people were diagnosed with
CRC in Alberta in 2006 and approximately 600 people died from it.
    Alberta has one of the highest rates of CRC in the world, with diagnosis
spiking at the age of 50 years old. Many individuals are also diagnosed with
the disease at a younger age.
    Even though it is preventable, an estimated 20,000 Canadians were
diagnosed with CRC last year, and an estimated 8,500 died from the disease in
2006. An almost equal number of men and women are diagnosed each year with CRC
in Canada.
    On average, 385 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every
week and 163 people will die from it every week. One in 14 men and one in 16
women are expected to develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. One in
28 men will die from it and one in 31 women will die from it.

    About CCAC

    The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada is the first non-profit
organization whose mission is to increase awareness and educate Canadians
about colorectal cancer, support patients and their families, and advocate for
a national screening policy and timely access to treatment and diagnostics.
For more information, please visit or call the toll-free info
line at 1-877-50COLON.
    Visit the CCAC's website for additional information on colorectal cancer


For further information:

For further information: or to schedule an interview with a patient or
physician, please contact: Barry D. Stein, Colorectal Cancer Association of
Canada, Cell: (514) 944-0200,, (514) 875-7745, or
1-877-50-COLON; Alia Hassan, Cohn & Wolfe, (416) 924-5700 ext. 4055,

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