Stoney Creek man stops colon cancer before it starts thanks to screening
By taking part in the province’s free colon cancer screening program, Camillus Olomofe stopped cancer before it had a chance to start.
“I’m very glad that I took the time for the colon cancer screening test,” says Olomofe, retail sales manager at Battlefield Plaza’s Value Village. He arranged for the test last year by visiting the big white cancer screening bus parked in the Stoney Creek plaza’s parking lot.
Battlefield Village is a regular stop on the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach’s schedule. This mobile cancer screening bus visits areas of the region where cancer screening rates are low.
By simply walking across the plaza’s parking lot and visiting the Coach, Olomofe arranged for the screening test to be sent to his home. Once a person completes the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) — more commonly known as the `poop test’ — in the privacy of their own home, they mail it to a lab for processing.
A short time after mailing away his test, Olomofe received a phone call from one of the Coach’s registered nurses, letting him know that he had a positive result. He also received a letter in the mail from Ontario Health alerting him.
“I’m very glad that I took the time for the colon cancer screening test.”
“At first I was scared, but the Coach nurse assured me that a positive result didn’t necessarily mean I had cancer. And even if I did, colon cancer is very curable if caught early.”
When caught early, nine out of 10 people with colon cancer can be cured, says Dr. Meghan Davis, regional primary care lead for the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant (HNHB) Regional Cancer Program. “If someone has undiagnosed colorectal cancer and does not get screened, the chance for early and more effective treatment may be missed.”
Olomofe was sent for a colonoscopy, where polyps were removed before they had time to develop into cancer. He’s sharing his story for Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March, in hopes of encouraging others to stay up-to-date with screening.
People ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms of cancer or a first-degree family history (parent, sibling or child with colon cancer) are encouraged to get screened by completing the at-home ‘poop test’ every two years through the province’s ColonCancerCheck program. This free test is ordered by an individual’s health care provider, such as their family doctor or nurse practitioner, and delivered to their home in the mail.
“The FIT can find cancer early, even before symptoms start.”
COVID-19 restrictions in the last two years have made access to routine medical care and screening more challenging for many reasons. Over 40 per cent of screen-eligible 50-74 year olds in the region are overdue for colorectal cancer screening. Further, nearly 800 people who have had an abnormal FIT have not completed the recommended follow-up.
“The FIT can find cancer early, even before symptoms start,” says Davis. “It can even detect evidence of pre-cancerous growths that can easily and safely be removed before they ever turn into cancer.”
The FIT detects traces of blood in the stool that are invisible to the naked eye. It only takes two minutes to take the test in the comfort of one’s home and then mail the sample back to the lab for testing. It’s simple, quick, painless, non-restrictive, and non-invasive. People who complete the test will receive a letter in the mail with their results and what the recommended next steps are for them.
Staying safe and healthy
“We have all taken measures to stay safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and getting checked for colon cancer is also part of taking care of our health” says Davis. “I encourage people to speak with their health care provider if they are overdue for a FIT and to complete the recommended follow-up if they have a test with abnormal results.”
Colon Cancer Awareness Month is a great time for people to arrange a screening test by contacting their health care provider or reaching out to the Coach or Telehealth Ontario if they do not have a regular provider responsible for their care.
For more information, visit the HNHB Regional Cancer Program website. Residents can contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213 or the Coach at 1 855-338-3131 or (905) 975-4467 to obtain a FIT if they do not have a regular health care provider.