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#Time4Change: Belgium

Published on 01 March 2018 back to previous

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer in men and second in women in Belgium, with 4,787 new cases in men and 3,883 in women in 2013.1

However, Belgium has also seen one of the biggest decreases in Europe of people dying from colon cancer. Each year, about 1,000 fewer men and 800 fewer women in Belgium die from the disease compared with over 20 years ago; a decrease of about 30%.2 

There has been organised screening in place since 2009 in Wallonia (first with guaiac FOBT, now with FIT) and 2013 in Flanders (with FIT). However, there are still issues, not least of all participation in the screening programmes. In Flanders, the participation rate is 54.5% against a target of 60%, but in Walloon the participation is a lowly 10%. And in the Brussels region, there still is no official screening programme, although one is promised to commence in June 2018.

#Time4Change - equality and education

Clearly there are major disparities between different regions in Belgium, which make screening and therefore treatment and survival, a “postcode lottery.”

Luc Colemont, gastroenterologist and Managing Director of Stop Darmkanker, national "Stop Colon Cancer" foundation, said: “After all these years working in this area, I am even more convinced than ever that the best therapy for colorectal cancer is early detection, but most people don't even know this simple message.”

Therefore, information and education are the first steps in the fight against colorectal cancer – and that’s for all stakeholders, whether the general public, primary care, specialists, journalists or politicians.”

His favourite quote, he says, is: “The best campaign is the one that is done, not the one that is discussed for many years.” Let’s hope that #Time4Change brings many more successful campaigns!



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