The Canary Islands "do not have the means" to screen the entire population for cancer with colonoscopies, says the AECC

The Canary Islands "do not have the means" to screen the entire population for cancer with colonoscopies, says the AECC

Archive image of the virtual colonoscopy or CT-colonography technique applied at the Doctor Negrín hospital in Gran Canaria. / C7

The archipelago has lagged behind in the early detection of this disease, according to the Spanish Association Against Cancer

Carmen Delia Aranda

«Canary Islands was a pioneer in the
early detection of colon cancerbut today we are very late, ”says the president of the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) in Las Palmas, Fernando Fraile.

According to the provincial representative of cancer patients, this setback is due to two reasons: because the Canarian health
lacks sufficient resources to do colonoscopies if screening is applied to the entire target population -those between 50 and 69 years old- and because
half of the people called to participate in the program refuse to take the tests.


  • Deaths
    550 people died in 2021 in the Canary Islands from colorectal cancer

  • diagnostics
    Last year on the islands, 1,687 cases of colon cancer were diagnosed

  • Prevalence
    This type of cancer is the most prevalent among the Canarian population, followed by breast cancer (1,515 cases) and prostate cancer (1,500).

  • Screening
    In 2021, 50,692 people participated in the early detection program

Thus, currently only taking part in the colon cancer prevention program is
25% of the Canarian population between 50 and 69 years old, points out Fraile, who urges to expand this percentage to avoid suffering and deaths. "It is a disease that, if caught in the first instance, is cured in a very high percentage," he points out.

In addition, Fraile assures that reinforcing the means to intensify the preventive program is
less expensive than treating the disease once it has been developed. “All the money that would have to be spent on colonoscopies would be much less than what is spent on treating colon cancer patients,” he stresses.

Fraile points out that the population should not reject a screening that represents an effort for the health system. “It is a right and a duty to be tested. Doing a colonoscopy is easier than treating a cancer with metastases”, the AECC spokesman abounds.

Age range

On the other hand, the president of the association's provincial committee affirms that the European Union is considering
broaden the age range of the target population for colorectal screeningwhich since 2003 has been between 50 and 74 years old, a wider margin than that set by the Canary Islands Health Service (SCS), which studies the island population between 50 and 69 years old.

Likewise, Fraile denounces the
inequity of colon cancer detection programs, since there are places where the age range of screening reaches up to 77 years.

The SCS twice denied a colonoscopy to a patient for being over 69 years old

Regarding the case of José Luis Marrero, whom
the SCS denied him a colonoscopy twice because he was 71 years old, despite being positive in the stool blood test, Fraile affirms that the patient had the misfortune of finding a doctor who applied the screening protocol without attending to the test result. "They had to have done the colonoscopy without strictly complying with the norm," says the provincial president of the AECC, who understands that in this matter "there is no malice or intentional neglect."

For its part,
from the Ministry of Health no explanation has been offered to this newspaper about the refusal of the SCS to perform the test on Marrero for exceeding the age for screening by two years.

58% of those cited for colon cancer screening refused the test