New Brunswick expanding colon cancer detection program

Cancer specialists say more lives will be saved by a screening program approved for expansion across New Brunswick. The program screens for the early detection of colon cancer.

Four years ago, New Brunswick introduced a limited colon cancer screening program with the goal of finding the disease in people who had no family or personal colon cancer history. The program aims to help people who might overlook the risks.

Cancer specialists like Dr. Eshwar Kumar of the New Brunswick Colon Cancer Program say the results have been a huge success.

“Now we’re picking things up early and preventing cancers from forming and and allowing people to live longer and be much more productive members of society…this has a tremendously positive impact on society in general.”

Tuesday, Premier Gallant announced $1 million dollars would be spent to expand the program province wide. Gallant says colon cancer has touched many Maritimers, including just recently, his own family.

“Every family has had a loved one or somebody that they care about who has gone through cancer, but there’s no doubt that when it’s your father it really hits home…that was certainly the case for our family but again, ever since the diagnosis, every day has been good news for us.   we’re one of the lucky families because my father was able to get the diagnosis early enough,” Gallant says.

Specialists say they are counting on New Brunswickers to respond to a survey when it arrives in the mail.

“Our participation was much higher than anticipated,”says Dr. Kumar. “We planned for between 20 and 25 per cent and now we are running at thirty percent.”

Anne McTiernane-Gamble of the Canadian Cancer Society says they are hoping for even higher participation rate.

“Consider doing the test and sending it in, there’s a bit of an ick factor, but you can quickly get over than when you realize you may be saving your own life,” says McTiernane-Gamble.

The screening program will be implemented province-wide by next year. The program has found colon cancer in 127 people since the screening process began.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.

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