A program that prevents colon cancer and finds it early when treatment is most effective is now available provincewide. All Nova Scotians between the ages of 50 and 74 will now have access to a home screening kit for the prevention and early detection of colon cancer, following the launch of the Colon Cancer Cancer Prevention Program today, March 25, to include Capital Health. The program began two years ago. “This program is an important part of the province’s commitment to providing better care sooner,” said MLA Leonard Preyra, on behalf of Health and Wellness Minister Maureen MacDonald. “This is an exciting day as Nova Scotians in every region will now have access to the screening tools that play a key role in preventing, detecting and treating colon cancer early.” About 300 new cases of colon cancer are expected to be diagnosed in Capital Health this year and about 800 people will be diagnosed provincewide. Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Nova Scotia. Ed Branton of Martin’s River, Lunenburg Co., was among the first to receive an invitation to participate in the program. Initially, he decided not to take part because he felt good and had no symptoms. But he changed his mind and did the test. It was easy to do. It took all of 10 minutes and that 10 minutes probably saved my life,” Mr. Branton said. “The home screening test revealed blood in my stool and the need for a follow-up colonoscopy. The colonoscopy found and removed two polyps, which contained an aggressive form of cancer. But, it was found so early, I didn’t need any further treatment. “My advice to people; when you receive your kit in the mail, take 10 minutes and do the test, even if you are feeling fine. It could save your life.” People who live in the area served by Capital Health will begin receiving information on the program next week, followed by a home screening kit with directions in English and French. The home screening test is easy to use. It tests for small amounts of blood in the stool, which may be a sign of growths in the colon. “Health is a shared responsibility. Government, health planners and providers have a responsibility to create programs and services to build healthy communities, and people who live and work in those communities have to do their part,” said Chris Power, CEO of Capital Health. “This program provides people with easy access to tools they need. I urge people to do the test. Help reduce the incidence of colon cancer and make our communities and our province healthier.” “Colon cancer can be prevented if people are screened regularly before there are any signs of disease,” said Dr. Bernard Badley, medical director, Colon Cancer Prevention Program. “The program saves lives and improves the outcome of those diagnosed with colon cancer at an early stage when treatment is most effective. “Although still in its early stages, the program already has made a difference, identifying 21 people with cancer and 229 Nova Scotians with pre-cancerous growths. Because it will save health dollars, this program is win-win for government and for Nova Scotia taxpayers.” More often than not, there are no warning signs of colon cancer in the early stages when it is most treatable and 80 per cent of people who get the disease have no family history of it. The greatest risk factor for colon cancer is age. Nova Scotians, between the ages of 50 and 74, are encouraged to be tested regularly. For more details on colon cancer or the home screening kits, go to www.cancercare.ns.ca/coloncancerprevention.Cancer Care Nova Scotia is a provincial program of the Department of Health and Wellness, which facilitates quality cancer prevention and care for Nova Scotians.