PEOPLE wishing a first-level of screening for colorectal cancer not involving a surgical procedure can now have it covered under the provincial Medical Services Plan.
Up until last month, paying for the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) was the responsibility of the patient.
People will still need to be referred by their primary care giver.
Generally, a FIT test is be recommended for people every two years who are between the ages of 50 and 74.
Individuals who have a significant family history of colorectal cancer will be referred to their regional health authority for a screening colonoscopy.
Family doctors will provide patients with a FIT test requisition, which they can take to their local community or private laboratory.
The laboratory will provide the patient with the FIT and detailed instructions for use.
Patients will need to return the test to the laboratory for processing and results will be provided to the family physician.
The aim of the program is for early detection leading to an immediate start for treatment.
“By highlighting the importance of early detection we hope to significantly increase screening rates, which will prevent colon cancer from developing or allow diagnosis at an earlier stage when it is close to 100 per cent curable. This program will save many lives in B.C.,” said Dr. Max Coppes, president of the BC Cancer Agency, in a release.
The comprehensive screening program was first made available on Vancouver Island and won’t be in effect in the north until September.