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DH to launch Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme in September tentatively

(Source: Depatment of Health)

To combat Hong Kong’s most common cancer, colorectal cancer, the Department of Health (DH) will tentatively launch in September this year a screening programme under which eligible Hong Kong residents aged between 61 and 70 will be invited in batches to undergo screening tests over a three-year pilot period.

The target group of the screening programme is Hong Kong residents born in 1946 to 1955, i.e. aged between 61 and 70 in the year 2016. To assist the smooth operation of the programme they will be invited to receive screening in batches, with those born from 1946 to 1948 as the first cohort for participation beginning this September tentatively. Arrangements for those born between 1949 and 1955 will be announced in due course. It is expected that some 300,000 attendances will undergo screening during the three-year pilot period.

She noted that the screening programme would adopt the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), a new version of faecal occult blood test, as the screening tool. FIT is a safe and effective screening test as indicated by local and overseas experience. It is simple to implement for a large number of participants and evidence has shown that it can reduce colorectal cancer mortality by 15 to 33 per cent.

The screening pathway will comprise two stages. Eligible persons will first visit a Primary Care Doctor (PCD) participating in the Pilot Programme, and enroll into the screening programme. They then receive a government subsidy to undergo FIT as the first line screening test. If the FIT result is positive, the PCD will then advise the participant to undergo colonoscopy assessment to find out the cause of bleeding. Polyps found will be removed to confirm or exclude the presence of cancer. The participant may visit any Colonoscopy Specialist (CS) of choice who has enrolled in the Pilot Programme.

The whole process will be heavily subsidised by the Government to encourage the public to participate and go through the screening pathway. The Government will provide the subsidy for the FIT screening offered by the enrolled PCD and the specified scope of colonoscopy services provided by the enrolled CS for individuals with a positive FIT result.

Dr Ching said, “The subsidy amount for each consultation at the enrolled PCD’s clinic is $280, which should generally be sufficient so that the participant may not need to make an additional payment.

“As for colonoscopy assessment, the Government subsidy would be $7800 or $8500 for the defined scope of services depending on whether colonic polyp(s) are found and removed. We understand that some enrolled CS, on top of the government subsidy, may charge more for various reasons. There will be a cap of $1000 for this copayment amount in order not to deter participants with a positive FIT result from receiving colonoscopy services.”