Screening program aims to catch colon cancer cases

A new colon cancer screening program is being rolled out in western Newfoundland.

The provincial government announced Monday it will be mailing out "do-it-yourself kits" to try to catch the cancer early.

Dr. Jerry McGrath, the medical director for the colon cancer screening program, says the disease is preventable.

"Screening is the key, because as we have heard today as well, patients who have colon cancer don't present with symptoms until it's too late," McGrath said.

Colon cancer is the second most common cancer in the the province.

There's hope the new program will be able to catch a lot more cases early, by targeting men and women between the ages of 50 and 74.

Health Minister Susan Sullivan says the goal of the program is to reduce provincial mortality rates.

Volunteers will be given kits to collect samples in their own homes and then forward them to a lab in St. John's for analysis.

The take-home kits will eventually be available across the province.

Western Health was the first to be ready to handle the program. The government hopes to find its volunteers through newspaper ads and a toll-free number.

The program will cost the province $3 million a year.

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