The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) and the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec (CPCQ) welcome the announcement of the MSSS investment in colonoscopies and the Quebec Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (PQDCCR) with cautious optimism

MONTREAL, Dec. 7, 2016 /CNW/ – The Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) and the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec congratulate Dr. Gaétan Barrette, Québec Minister of Health (MSSS) on the investment of $4.7 million to add access to an additional 25,000 colonoscopies in Montreal and its surrounding region in 2017 as well as the initial funding of 10 million for the preparation of the roll out of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (PQDCCR).
"We are cautiously optimistic that this investment will have an important impact on access to colonoscopy. Given existing wait times and the anticipation of further increased demand for colonoscopies due to uptake in the use of Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT), together with the anticipated closure of private out of hospital endoscopy clinics in the Montreal region, we are concerned that much more may need to be done to ensure patient access in a timely manner. It is however a good first step and coupled with the investment of 10 million dollars to assist in the preparation of the Quebec Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (Programme Québécois de dépistage du cancer colorectal (PQDCCR)) in anticipation of its roll out in the spring of 2018 this is certainly a good sign", said Me. Barry D. Stein president of the CCAC.
Since the added investment works out to be approximately $188 per colonoscopy, it will be important to be vigilant to ensure these funds are used appropriately by the targeted hospital centers so that they meet the expected goal of an additional 25,000 colonoscopies in 2017. The funding is dedicated to open  six new endoscopy suites or reopen closed ones at the MUHC (Glen site), Hôpital General de Montreal, Hôpital Maisonneuve -Rosemont, Hôpital Fleury, Hôpital Jean-Talon, Hôpital de LaSalle, Hôpital Honoré- Mercier) to add 13,959 colonoscopies and to extend the hours of operation until 7:00pm  in 8 suites  at the Hôpital du Sacré- Coeur de Montréal, Hôpital de Verdun, Hôpital de la Cité-de-la -Santé and Hôpital Charles-LeMoyne  to handle another 11,424 colonoscopies for a total of 25,000 colonoscopies.
It is hoped that these funds will help to reduce the extensive existing wait times for colonoscopy at these centers in the Montreal Region (Laval and South Shore) which at times have been well over one year and have been one of the critical factors in the delay of the roll out of Quebec Colorectal Cancer Screening Program (PQDCCR)) in the Montreal region. Notably absent however is funding for other hospitals in the Montreal region where the delays have also been significant. It is not clear how this will impact patients who wish to go to the hospital or physician of their choice, rather than these newly funded centers.
Additionally, with the adoption of new Quebec regulations to eliminate accessory fees proposed for January 2017, 11 private out of hospital endoscopies clinics in the Montreal region which account for between 15,000 -18,000 colonoscopies annually may be obliged to close. "These closures may further add to the wait times notwithstanding this investment as these colonoscopies will also have to be absorbed by the public system," said Dr. Gaetano Morelli, gastroenterologist representing Quebec Endoscopy Clinics, the association of out of hospital endoscopy clinics in Quebec.
According to the Canadian Cancer Statistics more than 6, 700 individuals will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer this year in Quebec and unfortunately about 2,550 Quebecers will die from the disease. The CCAC has been working to promote CRC screening in Quebec since 2007 when Premiere Dr. Philippe Couillard was the Minister of Health and he mandated the Institut national de santé publique (INSPQ) to determine the feasibility of programmatic colorectal cancer screening and subsequently promised the implementation of the province wide program. The PQDCCR was formally announced in Quebec in 2010, but unfortunately has been delayed for a variety of reasons since that time.
"It is estimated that the screening program once implemented could save 15% or more of the 2,550 deaths per year in Quebec from the disease and every day the program is delayed there is a missed opportunity to save lives and we cannot afford any further delay," said Stein.
The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) 2016 Cancer System Performance Report indicated that in 2012 that Quebec had the lowest participation rate in Canada for CRC screening with use of the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) at 14.5% of the targeted group of men and women between the ages of 50-74.
Since that time, Quebec has implemented opportunistic screening with use of a simpler and more accurate fecal immunochemical test (FIT). The adoption of this test and CCAC media promoting CRC screening may have caused an increase in CRC screening since then, though screening rates are still very low in Quebec.
Positive FIT tests indicate a possible cancer and are therefore followed up with a colonoscopy for final determination. It is important that colonoscopies be available within a short delay following a positive FIT test as patients face extreme stress during this period in anticipation of knowing whether they have cancer. 
"With the increased use of FIT and resulting FIT positive tests, we expect to see increased demand for colonoscopies. We have seen this in all Provinces as screening programs are introduced and it is important that capacity be increased to accommodate this additional demand", Stein added
The CCAC and the CPCQ welcome these important investments which are in line with the 2nd and 3rd Axis of the Quebec cancer action plan (Plan d'action 2016-2017 de la Direction générale de cancérologie (DGC)) and urge the Minister to continue to do everything necessary to ensure timely access to colonoscopy and the rapid deployment of the PQDCCR. "This is excellent news considering that these funds are an investment in prevention and not just an expenditure to find a cure. The benefits of this action will be reflected both economically and in terms of quality of life", said Mr. Serge Dion Vice President of the CPCQ and President of the Patients Committee of the CPCQ.  
Dr. Gerald Batist, medical adviser to the CPCQ and Chairman of the Department of Oncology, McGill University added, "Its wonderful that the Minister and DGC are fulfilling a longtime promise that has the strong potential to improve care and to actually save lives in the population".
The CCAC and the CPCQ look forward to the opportunity to promote cancer prevention through healthy lifestyles and colorectal cancer screening in anticipation of the roll out of the PQDCCR in partnership with the MSSS. "This is certainly an opportunity for the MSSS and the DGC to work together with the CCAC and CPCQ to make a difference," said Stein.
About the CCAC
Founded in 1998, the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and education of colorectal cancer, supporting patients and advocating on their behalf.  
For further information see: ;  and to participate in DECEMBEARD Canada see:
About the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec
Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 to protect, support and give a strong voice to people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, informal caregivers, their families and their loved ones, as well as cancer-related community organizations and health professionals) and to help organize the fight against cancer. The Coalition supports the achievement of the mission of its community and volunteer members and patient's groups. Because of the contribution of these organizations and members, the Coalition's membership represents close to 2 million people.
Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS); Association canadienne du cancer colorectal (ACCC); Association des Laryngectomisés de Montréal; Association des radio-oncologues du Québec (AROQ); Association des retraitées et retraités de l'éducation et des autres services publics du Québec (AREQ); Association du cancer de l'Est du Québec (ACEQ); Association féminine d'éducation et d'action sociale (AFEAS); Association pulmonaire du Québec (APQ); Association québécoise de soins palliatifs; Association québécoise des ergothérapeutes en pratique privée (AQEPP); Association québécoise des registraires en oncologie (AQRO); Association québécoise du lymphoedème (AQL); Cancer de la thyroïde Canada (CTC); Cancer de l'ovaire Canada (COC); Cancer Testiculaire Canada; CanSupport des Cèdres; Centre d'action bénévole de Bellechasse – Lévis – Lotbinière (Espoir Cancer); Centre de bénévolat SARPAD; Centre de recherche sur les biotechnologies marines (CRBM); Chaire en prévention et traitement du cancer de l'UQAM; Chaire de recherche Environnement-Cancer Guzzo de l'Université de Montréal; Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN); Conseil pour la protection des malades (CPM); Consortium de recherche en oncologie clinique du Québec (Q-CROC); Fédération des cliniques privées de physiothérapie du Québec (FCPPQ); Fédération des comités des usagers et résidents du Québec (FCURQ); Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ); Fondation de l'Hôpital Marie-Clarac; Fondation des étoiles; Fondation Rêver la vie; Fondation Sur la pointe des pieds; Innovation Exactis; Institut de l'anémie – Recherche et éducation (IARE); La Fondation canadienne des tumeurs cérébrales; La Fondation Sauve ta peau; La Maison Aube-Lumière; La Maison Mathieu-Froment-Savoie – Centre de soins palliatifs de l'Outaouais; Le Réseau aidant (LRA); L'espoir, c'est la vie; Lymphome Canada; Mains de l'Espoir de Charlevoix; Myélome Canada; NOVA Montréal; Ordre des acupuncteurs du Québec (OAQ); Organisme gaspésien pour les personnes atteintes de cancer (OGPAC); Ovaire espoir; Palli-Aide; PROCURE : Halte au cancer de la prostate; Regroupement des Aidants Naturels du Comté de l'Assomption (RANCA); Regroupement des aidants naturels du Québec (RANQ); Regroupement des omnipraticiens pour une médecine engagée (ROME); Regroupement en soins de santé personnalisés au Québec (RSSPQ); Regroupement provincial des comités des usagers (RPCU); Regroupement québécois des maladies orphelines (RQMO); Réseau canadien du cancer du sein (RCCS); Réseau des professionnels pour les proches aidants (RRPA); Sensibilisation VPH/HPV Awareness; SERCAN – Services pour personnes atteintes de cancer; Société de la LMC (leucémie myéloïde chronique); Société de leucémie et de lymphome du Canada (SLLC); Société de soins palliatifs à domicile du Grand Montréal
SOURCE Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec