A voluntary pilot screening test for the early detection of colon cancer has helped save 92 lives in the Larnaca communities where it was carried out, health minister George Pamporidis said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference to announce the extension of the programme to cover Livadia municipality, Pamporidis said that since the project was launched in 2013, more than 7,800 invitations have been sent to men and women aged between 50 and 69.
“The screening test began in 2013 as a response to the recommendations of the European Parliament to strengthen prevention,” Pamporidis said.
He added that colon cancer is the third most frequent cancer in men and women in Europe, and second in cancer related deaths.
“It is also a form of cancer that has an extremely high cure rate, reaching 90per cent in cases where the disease is diagnosed early,” Pamporidis said. However, it rarely presents any symptoms except in the final stages.
The screening pilot programme has been implemented so far in the municipalities of Athienou, Aradippou and Meneou-Dromolaxia, and the communities of Kiti, Tersefanou and Pervolia.
“The first results from the evaluation of the programme appear to be very encouraging: among the population targeted around 30 per cent responded to our invitation for examination, 92 cases were detected with a pre-cancerous or cancerous condition… it means that 92 lives were saved. Consider, then, how many more lives can be saved if prevention became part of our culture,” Pamporidis said.
The screening test developed and implemented by the health ministry, Pamporidis said, “is one of the most comprehensive screening programmes of this kind applied in the European Union”. The aim, he said, is to gradually expand the screening test to cover all districts.
Each year around 350 new cases of colon cancer are detected in Cyprus, and around 100 people die from the disease. The 50 to 69 age group faces the greatest risk of developing colon cancer.