THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – “Colon cancer screening can be the difference between life and death,” says Dr. Bill Harris, Regional Colorectal Screening and Gastrointestinal Endoscopy Lead. “When caught early, nine out of every ten people with colon cancer can be cured. In its later stages, the outcomes are much worse. That’s why it’s so important to get screened regularly.”
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC) has partnered with Cancer Care Ontario to encourage eligible men, ages 50 to 74 years, to get screened with a simple take-home test.
While colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women in Ontario, it’s highly treatable when caught early. The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is safe, painless and can be done at home. Cancer Care Ontario recommends that men and women, between the ages of 50 to 74 years, at average risk (no family history of colorectal cancer) complete a take-home FOBT kit every two years.
Local outdoors enthusiast and journalist, Gord Ellis, is helping to increase awareness about the importance of screening too. Ellis knows that when you’re healthy it’s the best time to get screened, “It’s no secret that men tend to avoid things to do with medical care, but there’s nothing to be afraid of. Completing your screening gives you a piece of mind. For me, it’s good to know that I am healthy so that I can continue to do the things I love to do.”
In the Northwest region, 46.4% of eligible adults have not completed their FOBT kits. “We need to increase this number,” explains Dr. Harris. “We need to encourage men and women to get their take-home kits from their healthcare providers, or Telehealth Ontario, and then complete them. The benefits of getting screened certainly outweigh the potential inconveniences.”
“I’ll admit that I didn’t go see my doctor regularly until I had to. But, I completed my kit and it wasn’t that bad. It’s a minor inconvenience, but now I know I am healthy,” said Ellis.
“When a person reaches 50 years of age, the risk of colon cancer rises,” says Dr. Catherine Dubé, Clinical Lead, ColonCancerCheck, Cancer Care Ontario. “Most often, a person with colon cancer has no early warning signs. Ontarians who are between the ages of 50 and 74 or those who have a family history of colon cancer should have a conversation about screening with their healthcare provider.”
Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting screened for colorectal cancer with a take-home FOBT kit. If you don’t have a healthcare provider, you can get a kit by calling Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
For more information about how you can ‘Call the Shots on Colon Cancer’, visit ColonCancerCheck.ca.