Nov. 24, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - A provincewide colorectal-cancer screening program will be developed in New Brunswick, representing an estimated $3 million annual investment once fully in operation.
Health Minister Mary Schryer announced the initiative in Fredericton this morning during a legislative breakfast organized by the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada.
"There is no reason why we should not be detecting diseases such as colon cancer before they get worse," the minister said. "We know colorectal cancer screening is a critical weapon in the fight against a disease that can be prevented. This is why we are committed to establishing a provincewide screening program."
The New Brunswick Cancer Network will design and implement the program over the next three fiscal years, beginning in 2010-11.
"Scientific evidence shows that deaths from colorectal cancer may be reduced by close to 20 per cent if 70 per cent of the population between the ages of 50 to 74 have regular screening through a fecal occult blood test every two years," said Schryer.
In addition, the minister announced the province will fund the intravenous drug Avastin, beginning Dec. 1. Avastin will be available as a treatment for eligible patients with metastatic colorectal cancer. The cost of funding Avastin in 2010-11 is estimated at $3.4 million.
"We know that cancer, in its various forms, is a terrible disease that affects more and more New Brunswick residents each year," she said. "It is a disease that touches almost everyone. By making strategic investments in prevention, early detection and treatment, we are taking a stand against cancer."
An estimated 540 New Brunswickers will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2009. It is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in New Brunswick.
MEDIA CONTACT: Sonya Gilks, communications, Department of Health, 506-444-3506.