Screening wait times could lead to deaths

Re: “Colon screening needs a fix,” editorial, May 25.

After a positive result from my stool test on March 22, my doctor made a referral to the B.C. Cancer Agency colon screening program on April 2. I received a letter dated April 17 informing me that I would be contacted “in the next few weeks” to set up an appointment for assessment. I received a call on May 23 from a nurse who asked some questions and informed me that I would likely get an appointment for a colonoscopy some time in July. More than eight weeks into the process, I do not have an appointment and do not know when I will be given one. If the estimate of July is correct, my wait time might be closer to 16 weeks than to the recommended maximum of eight weeks.

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I get the impression that the B.C. Cancer Agency is playing the same game as the U.S. Veterans’ Health Administration, which attempted to conceal patients’ actual wait times by contacting them numerous times in various ways without giving them appointments. This led to unnecessary deaths.

My father died of colon cancer and I have already had polyps removed that I was told could have become cancerous. Yet it has been more than five years since my last colonoscopy. With a diagnostic tool like the colonoscopy available, no one should ever have to die of colon cancer. But if this life-saving screening tool is delayed, some of us might die — and that should be a crime.

Joy Fisher


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