The health ministry is planning to make Cyprus the first European country with an organised national programme for colon and rectal cancer to help reduce mortality rates by 40 per cent.
“Because this particular type of cancer is caused by other benign conditions, polyps, which take a long time to develop into cancer, if they are detected and removed in time complete healing can be achieved,” Health Minister Giorgos Pamborides announced on Tuesday, marking European Awareness Month for Colon and Rectum cancer.
He explained the procedure is very simple, saying it is “a simple test for non-visible blood in faeces which can save your life.”
Based on scientific data an organised national programme should reduce the mortality rate by 40 per cent.
Larnaca was selected as a starting point for carrying out voluntary screening tests in 2014, and until today, 2,639 samples were taken in four municipalities and 11 communities. Of these, 207 were positive.
A colonoscopy, the removal of a polyp, was carried out in 133 cases where people had a precancerous condition and in three who already had cancer. “136 lives were saved,” the minister noted. The health ministry covers costs of the initial test, the first colonoscopy and the biopsy on any polyps found.
In Cyprus there are about 365 new colorectal cancers every year, most of them in the age group between 50 to 69, thus this age group was targeted.
The minister added the programme is also a model example of the state and the private sector, whereby the state purchases services from private gastroenterologists and colonoscopy is done in the private sector following strict EU directives and without delays and waiting lists.
Concluding, Pamborides thanked the Cyprus Association of Cancer Patients and Friends Pasykaf for their support and work in the spread of information about colorectal cancer.
Pasykaf has for years helped raise awareness by arranging for experts to inform people on colon cancer through various charity events organised by private individuals and organisations, called ‘Kafes tis agapis’ and through other events.