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Colon Cancer Prevention Program temporarily suspended

Cancer Care Nova Scotia (CCNS) recently announced it is temporarily holding off on mailing out its colon cancer home screening kits until a problem with the sensitivity of the device used to process the kit is corrected.

The monitoring system used to track the kits' performance picked up a recent increase in abnormal test results. The screening test looks for hidden blood in the stool, which may be a sign of cancer. The test manufacturer confirmed the increase is caused by a change in the sensitivity of the materials used to process the kits.

"The home screening kit is working as it should, but until the supplier has corrected the problem with the device used to process the kit and has assured Cancer Care Nova Scotia that their product once again meets our requirements, we will not be distributing any more home screening tests," said Dr. Badley.

But, there is no reason for people to be concerneMay2013d. Colon cancer develops from certain growths in the colon that may take up to a dozen years to become a cancer. The precancerous polyps have an increasing chance of bleeding as they grow. Because small amounts of blood can normally be found in stool, the home screening test is designed to find abnormal amounts of blood, while ignoring the tiny amounts lost by people who don't have polyps or cancers.

That’s why the Colon Cancer Prevention Program encourages testing every two years. That means a delay in receiving the home screening kit should not be a cause for concern.

People who would normally be receiving a kit in the mail will receive a letter explaining the temporary delay.

"We don't know for certain how long it will be before a new product is developed, has been tested and we are confident that it meets our needs," said Dr. Badley. "However, based on what we know now, we believe it may take about six months. We will let people know if this timeline changes."

There are a few things Nova Scotians should know:
- The Colon Cancer Prevention Program has been a success. Already, the Program has identified 1,300 Nova Scotians with pre-cancers or cancers before they had any warning signs.
- Anyone who has already done a screening test can be confident that the test is helping to find and prevent cancer.
- If you already have a home screening kit, but you haven’t done the test yet, you have two choices: you can do the test now and send it off to the lab, or you can wait until the Program resumes and do the test then.
- When you do receive the home screening kit in the mail, you should take the test because regular colon cancer screening is the best way to find and prevent cancer when treatment is most effective.
- Nova Scotians who have possible symptoms or concerns about colon cancer should not wait for a home screening kit, but instead should speak with their family doctor about the right test for them.

Nova Scotians who are looking for more information about the Colon Cancer Prevention Program can call 1-866-599-2267.

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