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Second Phase of Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme to start tomorrow
     With the implementation of the second phase of Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme starting tomorrow (February 27), asymptomatic Hong Kong residents born in the years 1949 to 1951, in addition to the first batch of participants, i.e. those born from 1946 to 1948, will be eligible to join this Programme for the prevention of colorectal cancer.

     Launched by the Department of Health (DH) in September last year, the three-year Pilot Programme provides heavily subsidised screening tests in phases for asymptomatic Hong Kong residents born from 1946 to 1955. The screening tests can help identify people who are more likely to develop cancer or who have colorectal cancer, so that treatment can start earlier to improve the chances of a cure.

     Enrolment from about 250 000 eligible participants of the second phase, i.e. Hong Kong residents born from 1949 to 1951, will begin tomorrow, while the first batch of participants, i.e. those born from 1946 to 1948, are still welcome to join the Programme.

     The statistics recorded in the first three months since the launch of the Programme show that about 70 per cent (560 cases) of participants who underwent colonoscopy examination were diagnosed with colorectal adenomas, which might progress into cancer and were removed during the colonoscopy examination. Meanwhile, about 6 per cent (51 cases) of participants who completed the colonoscopy examination were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and referred for further assessment and treatment. With early detection and prompt treatment, cure rates are comparatively higher.  

     A spokesman for the DH today (February 26) said these preliminary findings demonstrate the effectiveness of the Programme, and appealed to eligible persons to join the Programme early and make an appointment with an enrolled primary care doctor (PCD) to receive the screening service.

     The screening workflow 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 the Faecal Immunochemical Test (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 colonoscopy specialist (CS) who has enrolled in the Pilot Programme.

     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 provides 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.

     Currently, 599 PCDs have enrolled in the Programme, about 96 per cent of which do not charge any co-payment. Among 134 enrolled CSs, about 77 per cent of their service locations do not require co-payment for the standard package of colonoscopy services if there is no removal of polyps, while 64 per cent do not charge co-payment even if removal of polyps is required. Co-payments charged by individual CSs, if any, are capped at $1,000.

     The spokesman also advised that people who already have symptoms of colorectal cancer should seek a medical consultation and treatment promptly and directly instead of joining the Programme, while people who have received a colonoscopy examination in the past 10 years with normal findings and no symptoms do not not need to undergo a screening test.

     He reminded eligible persons to enrol in the electronic Health Record Sharing System (eHRSS) prior to joining the Pilot Programme. For details of eHRSS enrolment, please visit the eHRSS website at www.ehealth.gov.hk or call the Registration Office at 3467 6300.

     For more information about the Programme and the list of enrolled PCDs and CSs, please browse the thematic website at www.colonscreen.gov.hk or call the Programme hotline 3565 6288 during office hours.
Ends/Sunday, February 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:00
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