SUDBURY, ONTARIO – March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the Northeast Cancer Centre (NECC) and Health Sciences North (HSN) are encouraging eligible men and women to ‘Call the Shots on Colon Cancer’ and get screened with a simple take-home test.
It is estimated that in 2017, 10,400 Ontarians (about 5,700 men and 4,700 women) were diagnosed with colon cancer and approximately 3,250 Ontarians (1,750 men and 1,500 women) died from the disease. While colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths, it’s highly treatable when caught early. Despite this fact, many people are still not getting checked.
“When caught early, 9 out of every 10 people with colon cancer can be cured. In its later stages, the outcomes are much worse. That’s why it’s so important that men and women ages 50-74 years old get screened”, says Dr. Amanda Hey, Regional Primary Care Lead for the Northeast Cancer Centre.
Regular screening also means that you can find colon cancer before you get problems like persistent diarrhea or stomach pain, which can happen in the later stages of the disease.
Cancer Care Ontario recommends that men and women at average risk aged 50 to 74 get checked for colon cancer with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is a safe and painless cancer screening test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer.
An abnormal FOBT result does not necessarily mean that a person has colon cancer, but more testing with a colonoscopy is needed to find out why there is blood in their stool. "Colorectal cancer screening was a good experience for me”, says Michèle Parent-Bergeron, cancer screening patient at the Northeast Cancer Centre. “I largely attribute my positive experience to my contact with a patient navigator, a registered nurse, who provided me with expert counseling and the information that I needed to prepare for my first colonoscopy after my FOBT test came back positive”.
Some people who have had polyps removed from their colon, as well as people with inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), may be at increased risk for developing colon cancer and may need to be checked regularly with colonoscopy instead of an FOBT.
Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting checked for colon cancer with a take-home FOBT kit. People without a family doctor or nurse practitioner can get a kit through Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
For more information about how you can ‘Call the Shots on Colon Cancer’, visit https://www.hsnsudbury.ca/portalen/rcp/Programs-Services/Cancer-Screening/Colorectal-Screening
To assess your risk for colon cancer, be sure to use Cancer Care Ontario’s MyCancerIQ on-line tool at www.mycanceriq.ca. MyCancerIQ can be accessed from a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer, and includes a personalized action plan that you can share with your family and health-care provider.