More than three years after it launched in the Saint John region, New Brunswick's colon cancer screening program is expanding across the province.
That's music to the ears of Dr. Eshwar Kumar, who is the program's medical director.
Premier Brian Gallant was in Saint John last week to announce $1 million in funding to expand the program provincewide.
Over the last three years, Kumar says they've mailed over 230,000 letters to New Brunswickers and expected a participation rate of 20 to 25 per cent.
"We were absolutely thrilled to see that our participation rate is now running at 30 per cent," says Kumar, "which is the highest in the country."
Dr. Eshwar Kumar is medical director of the program. He says NB was last province to introduce a colon cancer screening program, so they’ve learned a lot from other provinces. pic.twitter.com/9OHHEinQaU
— Brad Perry (@BradMPerry) April 10, 2018
The screening program targets people aged 50 to 74 with no family or personal colon cancer history.
Kumar says the positive impact that this program will have on the health of our population is huge.
"We've detected 127 cancerous and precancerous lesions and over 4,000 polyps," he says. "Polyps, sometimes, can develop into cancer."
Kumar says all of those patients were asymptomatic, meaning there was no sign anything was wrong.
New Brunswick was the last province to announce a colon cancer screening program, but Kumar says they were able to learn from the other provinces and develop what he says is one of the best programs in the country.