For more than year, the minister of health has been sitting on a proposal for a colorectal cancer screening program that could have been saving lives, New Democrat Health Critic Adrian Dix said yesterday.

“All that needs to be done is for the Premier and the minister of health — to use an expression — to get off their butts,” Dix said.

The business plan prepared by the Provincial Health Services Authority and the B.C. Cancer Agency projects 2,418 cases of colorectal cancer in B.C. a year, and that screening can prevent 33 per cent of related deaths.

It was leaked by “sources,” Dix said.

The screening program would be “by health-care standards, a bargain,” Dix said.

Dix has had personal experience with colorectal cancer. “My mom had it, and she survived because it was caught early,” he said.

In the past, a timely diagnosis has “depended a lot on luck,” Dix said.

The Ministry of Health does screen for at-risk groups, and is currently looking at a broader population screening program, which proactively contacts people for testing, a spokeswoman said.

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