DH to extend Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme starting Monday (with photo)
Launched in September last year, the three-year Pilot Programme subsidises in phases asymptomatic Hong Kong residents born from 1946 to 1955 to undergo screening tests, with those born in the years 1946 to 1948 as the first batch of participants. As of yesterday (February 20), 597 primary care doctors (PCDs) and 134 colonoscopy specialists (CSs) had enrolled in the Programme, with about 12 900 eligible persons joining as participants.
The Controller of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the DH, Dr Wong Ka-hing, announced at a press conference today (February 21) the implementation of the second phase starting next Monday, which will extend the Programme to Hong Kong residents born in the years 1949 to 1951, while eligible persons in the first phase, i.e. Hong Kong residents born in the years 1946 to 1948, can continue to join the Programme. He called on eligible persons to enrol for the Programme early to prevent colorectal cancer.
According to the DH's information, in the first three months since the launch of the Programme, i.e. as of December 29, 2016, of the 10 008 participants whose stool specimens were analysable, 1 423 (14.2 per cent) tested positive in the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). Among them, 799 participants completed the colonoscopy examination, of whom 95 required no polyps to be removed while 704 had polyps removed. Further examination of the removed polyps revealed colorectal adenomas (560 cases), colorectal cancer (51 cases) and hyperplastic polyps, bowel inflammation or no pathological changes (93 cases).
Also present at the press conference, the Head of the Surveillance and Epidemiology Branch of the CHP, Dr Regina Ching, said, "Of note, about 70 per cent of those participants who have completed the colonoscopy examination were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas. As their polyps have been removed in the course of examination, there is no chance for the polyps to become cancerous. In the same period, about 6 per cent of participants completing the colonoscopy examination have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and have been referred for further assessment and treatment. Despite a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, it is believed that their diseases are in the early stages as the participants have no apparent symptoms. With early detection and prompt treatment, cure rates are comparatively higher."
Task force member of the Pilot Programme Professor Cindy Lam also spoke at the press conference, advising eligible persons to review their health condition and relevant history, such as whether they had symptoms of colorectal cancer currently and whether they had received a colonoscopy examination in the past 10 years, when considering enrolment in the Programme.
She explained that screening tests are targeted at people without symptoms, with the aim of identifying those people who have colorectal cancer or who are more likely to develop cancer, so that treatment can start earlier to improve the chances of a cure. Eligible people who already have symptoms are advised to seek a medical consultation promptly instead of enrolling in the Pilot Programme to receive the FIT screening. She added that there is a possibility of false negative results in screening tests, which may cause a delay in disease treatment and affect the prognosis. In addition, according to the recommendations provided by the Cancer Expert Working Group on Cancer Prevention and Screening of the Government, it is not necessary for people without symptoms to undergo a screening test if they have received a colonoscopy examination in the past 10 years.
Dr Ching also reminded eligible persons that they have to enrol in the electronic Health Record Sharing System (eHRSS) prior to joining the Pilot Programme. Enrolment can be made in person at the eHR Registration Centres. Alternatively, they can submit the registration form online, by fax or post, or via drop-in box at the eHR Registration Office. Senior persons can consider seeking assistance from family members and caretakers in registering. For details, please visit the eHRSS website at www.ehealth.gov.hk or call the Registration Office at 3467 6300.
The screening pathway of the Programme comprises two stages: (1) Eligible persons first make an appointment with an enrolled PCD. Upon enrolment, the participant will receive a government subsidy to undergo FIT. (2) If the FIT result is positive, the participant will be referred by the PCD to receive a colonoscopy examination in order to find out the cause of bleeding. The participant may choose any CS who has enrolled in the Pilot Programme.
To encourage the participation of eligible persons and their completion of the screening pathway, the screening process is heavily subsidised by the Government. For FIT screening, the enrolled PCDs usually provide one consultation for each participant and arrange a second consultation only if the FIT result is positive. The Government will provide a subsidy amount of $280 for each consultation. As for the colonoscopy examination, the subsidy amount is $7,800 if no polyp is detected, while the amount will be $8,500 if polyp(s) are found and removed. The costs of the laboratory test for FIT and the histopathology are also covered by the Government.
Enrolled doctors, on top of the government subsidy, may charge more when providing specified services. There is no cap on copayment charged by enrolled PCDs while there is a cap of $1,000 on copayment charged by enrolled CSs for the standard package of colonoscopy services.
People who are interested in enrolling in the Pilot Programme can browse the thematic website at www.colonscreen.gov.hk for more information and the list of enrolled PCDs and CSs. Enquiries can be made by calling the Programme hotline 3565 6288 during office hours.
Ends/Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:51
Issued at HKT 16:51