Manitobans at risk of developing certain types of cancer now have access to screening procedures here in the province.
Health Minister Erin Selby announced Monday that new cancer screening procedures are available in Manitoba to identify patients facing a greater risk for inherited colon cancer and other cancers.
The province is also offering tests for Lynch syndrome, a genetic disorder that greatly raises the risk of developing cancer.
"Identifying the risks for cancer is critical to providing the most appropriate care possible to the patient and at-risk relatives, and we're pleased to offer this screening in our province," Selby said in a news release.
"This testing will give patients, their families and their physicians the information they need to make informed decisions about treatment options, risk factors and a lifetime care plan."
All colorectal cancer surgery patients aged 70 and under will have tests for Lynch syndrome, according to the province.
Megan Tucker, who survived Stage 3 colon cancer, said she and her brother started undergoing regular cancer screening after learning they are both carriers of Lynch syndrome.
"It's not for me anymore. It's to have him tested, to have him know, and to be able to make those necessary adjustments to his life or to get the screening that's required," she said. “In his case, he hopefully will never have to have a Stage 3 cancer to trigger his concern. He’ll be tested. He’ll be checked.”
Tucker, age 33, was diagnosed in 2011.
“It was a complete change of everything I knew. I was going to have to have time off work. I was going to have to go through treatment,” she said.
Tucker said having the tests available in Manitoba is very important for families and makes it easier for those who do have the disorder to get on a prevention plan sooner.
She added that while no one wants to find out they have an inherited genetic mutation that could lead to cancer, knowing has helped her control her risk.
Dr. Sri Navaratnam, the president of CancerCare Manitoba said the tests are a significant step forward for cancer control in the province.
“Not only for colorectal cancer — it could have increased risk for endometrial cancer, which is women's uterine cancer, ovarian cancer, urinary tract cancers — so it will have an impact on those cancers as well,” said Navaratnam.
Selby said genetic tests for breast cancer are also available, and the province is exploring the possibility of expanding genetic screening for other forms of cancer, such as melanomas and lung cancer.
Officials with Diagnostic Services Manitoba say having new cancer screening procedures right in the province shortens wait times.