Provincial NDP leader Adrian Dix is calling for a provincewide colorectal cancer screening program.
Dix was in Nanaimo Thursday to meet with party members, business leaders and First Nations people and take a tour of Harmac mill.
Also on the agenda was talking to the media about improving colorectal cancer rates on the Island.
He said about 1,100 British Columbians die every year from this type of cancer, which disproportionately affects people between 50 and 74. The B.C. Cancer Agency expects the incidence of colorectal cancer on the Island to increase by 19 per cent by the end of the decade and mortality by 16 per cent.
“The good news is we can significantly act to address survival rates with early detection,” said Dix. “For 90 per cent of people, [early] detection means that this isn’t fatal. I’m proposing a provincewide program to enhance colorectal screening.”
He urges all people ages 50-74 to get screened, adding that the test is inexpensive and could be done at home in a matter of minutes.
Dix has been advocating for such a program for a number of years. His mother is one of the fortunate ones, whose colorectal cancer, diagnosed in 1998, was detected early enough that it was not fatal.
He said the screening program, which the B.C. Cancer Agency could take responsibility for, is a particular focus because of the effectiveness and inexpensiveness of the tests.
Dix estimates it could cost about $10 million based on costs of the Ontario screening program, but it would save money in the long run by reducing the number of people who need extensive care.
He hopes to get the program implemented as soon as possible, adding that he feels it is not a partisan issue.
While his main topic of discussion for the Thursday meeting with reporters was the screening program, Dix also expressed disappointment with the Liberal government’s decision to cancel the fall sitting of the legislature.
“The legislature has sat dramatically less under the Liberals than it did under the NDP and dramatically less now under Premier Clark than it did under Premier Campbell,” he said. “The legislature is the place our government gets held accountable in our democracy.”