Colon Cancer Screening Program Being Expanded Across N.B.

Posted on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 13:25 PM

New Brunswick is spending $1 million to expand the colon cancer screening program across the province.

The program began in the Saint John area in 2014 and has spread to other communities in the last few years.

Premier Brian Gallant says this announcement really hits home for him — his father was diagnosed with colon cancer in February.

"We're very lucky, everything is going very well for my father ever since the diagnosis," says Gallant, "and we hope with this investment today that things can go well for many other families if they're diagnosed with colon cancer."

Average-risk New Brunswickers — those with no family or personal colon cancer history — who are 50 to 74 years old will be invited to take part.

They will receive a questionnaire which will be reviewed by the New Brunswick Cancer Network to see if they should be screened using an at-home test.

Dr. Eshwar Kumar, medical director of the New Brunswick Colon Cancer Screening Program, says early detection saves lives.

"One of the challenges we face in this part of the world is that patients present at very advanced stages of cancer," says Kumar. "As a result of that, the outcomes tend to be poorer."

The program was expected to be available throughout the province by the end of 2016, and Gallant was asked why it's taken so long to make this happen.

"Well, I think you can certainly try to spin this as much as you want as a negative," he says, "I think what's really important is that we're investing in something that is working, we're going to be investing in something that is going to be now provincewide, and something that we think is going to save lives."

Colon cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second-most common cause of all cancer deaths in New Brunswick.