Health Minister Terry Lake acknowledged Tuesday health authorities are challenged by rising demand for colonoscopies.

Most colonoscopies on time in Fraser region despite demand surge

Free colorectal cancer tests fuel increase in procedures in B.C., creating 'challenge' for health authorities

Longer than recommended waits for colonoscopies are a significant problem for B.C. health authorities since the rollout of a province-wide cancer screening program, Health Minister Terry Lake admitted Tuesday.

But Fraser Health officials say colonoscopy waits in this region are largely under control, with 88 per cent of patients getting the procedure within the recommended eight weeks of booking.

Publicly funded stool tests now available under the provincial colon screening program, coupled with public education about the benefits of testing, has fueled a jump in demand for colonoscopies as well as surgery for colorectal cancer.

The program took effect in Fraser a year ago and Lake was under fire from the Opposition in the B.C. Legislature over patient complaints of waits of up to eight months in some other health regions.

“We understand the challenge that has been created by the expansion of the screening program,” Lake responded.

“All health authorities are working hard, under my direction, to ensure that we do reduce those wait times so that all patients that have to be screened and then have a colonoscopy and the surgery are done in a timely manner.”

Fraser Health anticipated 450 people a month would test positive each month using the stool test (called a fecal immunochemical or FIT test) but it’s been contending with twice that number of positive tests triggering colonoscopies or surgery.

“When the program was implemented in November 2013, we experienced an immediate increase of up to 950 positive FIT cases per month, and that number has been sustained,” spokesperson Erin Labbe said.

She said most patients now wait eight weeks after the initial FIT test for a phone assessment, at which point they’re booked for a colonoscopy, which usually happens within eight more weeks.

The median wait time for colorectal surgery last year was three weeks in Fraser Health. Labbe said more recent figures were not available but added urgent cancer surgeries get priority.

In response to rising demand, Fraser has added colonoscopy time at Burnaby, Ridge Meadows, Abbotsford Regional, Royal Columbian, Jim Pattison Outpatient and Langley Memorial hospitals.

“We will continue to add additional colonoscopy time to other hospitals, where we can,” Labbe said.

Early detection and treatment of colon cancer significantly raises survival rates to nearly 90 per cent.

NDP MLA Adrian Dix said private colonoscopy providers have been heavily advertising their services, offering the potential for some patients to jump the queue while the public system struggles to keep pace with demand.

“That shouldn’t happen – $2,000 should not get you months of an advantage in colon cancer care in B.C.”

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in B.C. and the second leading cause of cancer death in men.

Just Posted

Kent honours late CAO with tree planting

Tony Lewis passed away in 2007, seven months before his retirement from the position

School trip tragedy leaves Hope mourning the loss of one of their own

Long-time resident, Sandra Loring, passed away while chaperoning a European school trip

Fraser Health reminds parents to get their kids fully vaccinated against measles

Health authority will send letters home to parents with catch-up program information

Chilliwack fatal hit-and-run case goes to B.C. Supreme Court

Linnea Labbee, 70, accused in Dec. 1, 2016 incident that killed 78-year-old Fourghozaman Firoozian

Gas prices in Metro Vancouver hit $1.72 a litre

And one analyst expects it to only go higher this week

VIDEO: Agassiz, Harrison celebrate National Pet Day

From cats and dogs to lizards and chickens, residents showed off the animals that enrich their lives

WATCH: South Vancouver Island shooting an ‘isolated and targeted’ incident, say police

One person in custody, another fled following shooting and crash on West Shore

Woe, Canada: Bruins down Maple Leafs 5-1 in Game 7

No Canadian teams left in Stanley Cup playoffs

Defence accuses officer of ‘incompetence’ in trial for B.C. man accused in daughters’ murder

Double murder trial for the Victoria father accused of killing his two young daughters continues

Should B.C. parents receive money if they make sure their kids are vaccinated?

New survey looks at public opinion around government’s role in forcing immunizations

Loud jets from Abbotsford are annoying residents of tiny U.S. town

Flights out of Abbotsford airport turn over border town and annoy residents, Sumas mayor says

Olympic auditions return to Lower Mainland

Event an opportunity for unknown athletes to shine and, maybe, change sports

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

Most Read