Tuesday, September 29, 2020

‘Gold card’ coverage of colon screening finds 50,000 at-risk people

Sep 09. 2019
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By The Nation

Over a million Thais have gone for colon cancer screening since the beginning of 2018, a test that has been covered for 21 months so far by the "gold card" universal healthcare scheme, according to the National Health Security Office (NHSO).

The test results resulted in about 50,000 people being brought under timely first-phase monitoring and treatment as they were found to have a risk of developing colon cancer. That early treatment contributed to a reduced number of cancer patients and deaths, said the NHSO in a Sunday release.

Dr Sakchai Kanjanawattana, the NHSO secretary general, said the office’s board had approved coverage for colon cancer, targeting people aged 50-70 as well as those from families with a colon cancer history, since fiscal year 2018.

Colon cancer is among the five most frequently found cancers among Thais. Some 3,000-5,000 new patients are diagnosed with colon cancer per year, many of whom are by then in advanced stages that are costly to treat and result in more than 3,000 deaths yearly, Sakchai said.

Colon cancer treatment at an early stage would yield better results, and so screening patients is worthwhile, he noted.

From the beginning of the fiscal year 2018 until August 2019, a total of 1,072,630 people underwent the colon cancer screening – with 51,909 found to be at risk and put under ongoing medical monitoring.

Among them, 27,217 underwent endoscopic procedures. Of them, 3,336 also had a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis, with 1,480 of them undergoing a lesion excision, he added.

In addition to the screening and early treatment that could improve a colon cancer patient's chance of survival and life quality, the NHSO board this year added the coverage of the costs of colostomy bags under the programme.

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