NDP Calls for Colorectal Cancer Screening Program

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VANCOUVER – New Democrats are calling for a province-wide colorectal cancer screening program to protect people in British Columbia, where colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death. Adrian Dix

“Experts have been calling for a screening program for years, and it is time for the government to take a serious look at this. An effective screening program will not only save lives, it will also reduce overall healthcare costs, making it a viable solution to combat this deadly disease,” said Adrian Dix, the New Democrat health critic.

A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal built on existing analysis which shows that screening for colorectal cancer reduces healthcare costs. All three forms of testing reviewed by the study – low-sensitivity guiaic fecal occult blood testing, fecal immunochemical tests and colonoscopies – were shown to not only drastically reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer and save lives, but to also offer significant value for money in our health care system.

“The study published in the CMAJ demonstrates that British Columbians have much to gain from implementing a colorectal cancer screening program. This is a sound, long term strategy for dealing with one of the deadliest cancers in this province. It is a smart solution that will protect generations of British Columbians by allowing us to target colorectal cancers early on,” Dix said. “The facts are all there, what’s missing is political will.”

According to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada, this year an estimated 22,500 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 9,100 will die of it. However, if detected at its earliest stage, the chance of survival is over 90 per cent.

“Unfortunately, British Columbia is far behind other provinces when it comes to testing for colorectal cancer,” said Dix.

In 2007, Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba all committed to screening programs after a Canadian Cancer Society report highlighted the need for such programs. Prior to that, the Provincial Health Services Authority and the B.C. Cancer Agency completed a business plan for the government, setting out target dates and an implementation plan for a colorectal screening program in British Columbia.

“New Democrats have been calling for this program for many years. We have fallen far behind other provinces, and it is time for this government to take action. Many lives and health care dollars could be saved if the B.C. Liberals choose to embrace long-term, preventative health care strategies.” Dix said.

Carole James and the New Democrats will continue to fight for long-term solutions that will ensure a safe and prosperous future for British Columbians.