Gouvernement Princier de Monaco
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News of theme "Social Affairs and Health"
06 March 2018 Press release

Monaco continues commitment with MARS BLEU colon cancer prevention and screening campaign

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The Prince’s Government and the Princess Grace Hospital are continuing their efforts to raise the public’s awareness of colorectal cancer screening through the Mars Bleu (Blue March) campaign. Much like Octobre Rose (Pink October), a period dedicated to breast cancer screening, this March will be coloured blue for a similar cause. 

Colon cancer, which is responsible for 18,000 deaths a year in France, primarily affects people over 50, who are the main target of the awareness campaign in the Principality and neighbouring countries. It is a very common cancer, second only to lung cancer for men and to breast cancer for women, yet screening is available for the disease, even in the absence of symptoms. 

This prevention and screening awareness campaign aims to encourage anyone who has concerns to ask for a colonoscopy: if they have a family history of the disease, if their bowel movements have become irregular, if they experience new intestinal pain or if blood appears in their stools. 

An ongoing screening campaign, supported by the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, began in 2006. It is aimed at everyone between the ages of 50 and 80. Between 2006 and 2015, 30,000 people were invited to undergo screening and 12,000 benefitted from the Hemoccult test, which checks for the presence of blood in stools. Of those, 130 tests were positive. 

In November 2015, the Hemoccult test was replaced by a new immunology test which is easier to use and offers better results. The Biology Laboratory at Princess Grace Hospital has been equipped with an automated system (OC SENSOR) specially designed to interpret immunology tests sent in by those who have undertaken them. The test results will be returned to patients by the Monaco Screening Centre, with a copy also sent to their referring physician. 

The results obtained after two years of using the immunology test in the Principality are as follows: 

  • 8,597 people have received a letter inviting them to undergo screening
  • 5,063 tests have been sent out
  • 3,445 tests have been returned and analysed, with 108 proving positive, allowing patients to receive early, beneficial treatment 

The survival rate for this disease is closely linked to the speed of diagnosis: the earlier it is caught, the less invasive and demanding the treatment is, and the less severe the side effects are.

Colonoscopy is an outpatient procedure which requires a very light general anaesthetic and enables a precise diagnosis to be made through the potential identification of polyps (which can be removed) or cancer. Colonoscopy and screening significantly reduce the mortality rate associated with this cancer (25 to 30%). 

As it does every year, the Mars Bleu 2018 campaign will provide an opportunity to send out a strong message highlighting the fight against colon cancer, with the primary weapon being screening and prevention. 

If you have any questions about colon cancer screening, please contact the Monaco Screening Centre on (+377) 97 98 83 02.

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