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Health and Community Services
March 19, 2010

Provincial Colorectal Cancer Screening Program Announced

The Provincial Government is continuing its commitment to further enhance and improve cancer care throughout the province with the implementation of a new Provincial Colorectal Cancer Screening Program. The Williams Government will invest $240,000 in Budget 2010 to begin implementing the program. This investment is part of a $4.3 million commitment over three years.

�Our government recognizes the importance of implementing programs that increase the early detection of all types of cancer, including colorectal cancer, which is the third most common cancer for men and women nationally and provincially,� said the Honourable Jerome Kennedy, Minister of Health and Community Services. �We understand that detecting cancer early remains the best strategy for improving survival and increasing the quality of life for those living with cancer. Our commitment to the fight against cancer continues with the establishment of this new screening program. Enhancing the healthcare programs and services we provide to the residents of our province remains a top priority.�

The goal of the Provincial Colorectal Cancer Screening Program is to reduce mortality due to colorectal cancer in the province, through the early detection of cancer in patients who may carry the disease, but have no symptoms. The target age group will be all men and women between 50 and 74 years of age. The screening program complements other government initiatives that focus on improving health, including the Provincial Wellness Plan, the Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Healthy Aging Policy Framework.

The screening program will be administered by Eastern Health as part of its responsibility for the Provincial Cancer Care Program. Phase one will involve introductory screening for individuals in a select area. The program will expand incrementally to encompass the entire province, and once fully implemented will require an estimated $3 million in annual funding.

�We welcome this investment by the Provincial Government to implement a screening program for colorectal cancer in Newfoundland and Labrador,� said Vickie Kaminski, President and CEO of Eastern Health. �The screening program will play a significant role in the early detection of this disease which will help decrease the morbidity rates. We look forward to adding another important component to the Provincial Cancer Care Program.�

�The significant enhancements to colorectal cancer screening services are likely to have an effect on demand for colonoscopies and other endoscopy services,� said Minister Kennedy. �In order to prepare for the potential increased demand for services the Department of Health and Community Services will be working with the Regional Health Authorities to ensure we have efficient and effective endoscopy services throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.�

Newfoundland and Labrador has invested significantly in cancer treatment and prevention in recent years, including $10.9 million for the purchase of 12 digital mammography units for communities across the province, $10.6 million for the construction of bunkers and the purchase of two new radiation machines for the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Treatment Centre, and $17.2 million for new medical equipment, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, to diagnose and treat cancer and other diseases. These investments are in addition to two new cancer centres in central Newfoundland and the expansion of the cervical cancer screening program province-wide.

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Media contacts:

Jennifer Tulk
Communications Manager
Department of Health and Community Services
709-729-1399, 699-6524
Deborah Collins
Media Relations Manager
Eastern Health

2010 03 19                                                   10:05 a.m.

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