WASHINGTON (AP) - Veterans Affairs officials are confirming that six deaths have been linked to delayed screenings for colorectal cancer at the VA's medical center in Columbia, S.C.
The VA's inspector general said in a recent report that delayed colonoscopies and other screenings were linked to malignancies found in 52 patients. The report did not go into detail about the seriousness of those cases.
VA spokesman Kevin McIver confirmed the six deaths Friday in response to questions from The Associated Press. He said the VA sent disclosure notices to 20 veterans or their families. Under department policies, such notices are required in cases involving serious injury or death.
McIver and the VA's inspector general emphasized that a backlog in colorectal screenings built up in 2011 and 2012 but has since been resolved.