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B.C. announces new colorectal cancer screening program

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The B.C. government is moving to prevent colon cancer deaths with a screening program to help find the disease early.

Health Minsiter Margaret MacDiarmid says the first stages of colon cancer can have no symptoms, but finding it early greatly increases the survival rate.

Colorectal cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in Canada, but if caught early it's 90 per cent curable.

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The province-wide program launches in April, 2013, with the introduction of a free fecal immunochemical test, or FIT, where patients can complete the test at home without changing their diet or medication.

Dr. Max Coppes, president of the BC Cancer Agency, says the new screening program will improve early detection of cancer and precancerous lesions and that will decrease the death rate.

The new program will be built on the experiences of a pilot program called Colon Check that has been running in several B.C. communities since 2009.

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