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Early colon cancer screening on pause in B.C.

Colonoscopies will continue, says cancer agency

  • Oct. 5, 2017 1:40 p.m.

The BC Cancer Agency has suspended part of their early colon cancer screening process.

The agency said that fecal immunochemical testing was being “suspended temporarily… to ensure tests meet performance standards.”

The tests are routine analyses recommended for men and women 54-74 years old. They detect blood in the patient’s stool, which can be an early marker of colon cancer.

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The suspension only applies to those without a family history of colon cancer or other symptoms, noted Dr. John Spinelli, vice-president of population oncology at BC Cancer Agency.

“Patients with a family history of colon cancer or with symptoms that may indicate cancer will not be affected by this test suspension,” said Spinelli. “FIT is designed for people considered at average risk of colon cancer. If you are at high risk of colon cancer due to a strong family history or personal history of adenomas, your doctor can still refer you to the Colon Screening Program for colonoscopy.”

Colonoscopies remain available province-wide, he added.

Staff are working to resolve fecal immunochemical testing issues but early estimates show that it could be months until the tests resume. Patients who have submitted results to a laboratory, but have not yet received their results will have to resubmit once testing resumes. Those who have received a positive result should continue to follow the steps outlined in their treatment plans.

For more information, visit screeningbc.ca/colon.

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