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

‘It’s just taking your dreams away’: Cloverdale farmer worries ALR changes will kill house plans

Kevin Buttar’s house has been in progress for five years; new rules may have him starting all over

Surrey needs more Mounties now, city councillor says

Linda Annis says public safety cannot be put on hold while city forms its own police force

Rally planned to protest ‘postponement’ of Cloverdale ice complex

A Cloverdale arena is one of many projects set to be delayed in the City of Surrey’s draft budget

Surrey Eagles pick up overtime point on weekend homestand

BCHL team drops game to Coquitlam Express on Teddy Bear Toss night

TransLink reveals new plans for proposed Surrey-Langley SkyTrain

No cost estimates, but the Fraser Highway line is expected to open by 2025

VIDEO: Santa arrives in Clover Square Mall

To all the children’s delight, Santa came crashing into Cloverdale

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Military closes book on oft-criticized support unit for ill, injured troops

The transition unit will provide support and services to military members struggling with physical and mental injuries so they can return to work.

Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson named NHL’s first star of the week

Canucks centre scored two goals and six assists in three games

Protester says Canada doing U.S. ‘dirty work’ outside Huawei exec’s bail hearing

The U.S. wants to extradite Meng to face fraud allegations after Canada arrested the high-profile technology executive.

Break-in at home of detained Chinese Huawei executive

Meng Wanzhou was detained in Vancouver on America’s request

5 to start your day

TransLink reveals new plans for proposed Surrey-Langley SkyTrain, 81-year-old woman waits 90 minutes for a taxi in Pitt Meadows and more

Natural gas rates will go up in B.C. on Jan. 1

Regions could pay up to $68 more

Top House Dems raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump

It could be an “impeachable offense” if it’s proven that President Donald Trump directed illegal hush-money payments to women during the 2016 campaign.

Most Read