Over 40 per cent of those who should be screened for colorectal cancer in the region are overdue
March 14, 2022 (Hamilton, ON) – March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, and the HNHB Regional Cancer Program wants everyone to know that colorectal cancer is preventable, treatable and beatable.
“Screening increases the chances of finding cancer early. When caught early, nine out of 10 people can be cured,” says Dr. Meghan Davis, Regional Primary Care Lead for Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant. “If someone has undiagnosed colorectal cancer and does not get screened, the chance for early and more effective treatment may be missed.”
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 an at-home ‘poop test’ called a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every two years through the province’s ColonCancerCheck Program. This free test is ordered by an individual’s healthcare provider and delivered to their home in the mail.
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, there are just under 800 people who have had an abnormal FIT who have not completed the recommended follow-up.
“The FIT can find cancer early, even before symptoms start. It can even detect evidence of pre-cancerous growths that can easily and safely be removed before they ever turn into cancer,” adds Dr. Davis.
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.
“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 Dr. Davis. “I encourage people to speak with their healthcare 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 to arrange a screening test by contacting their healthcare provider or reaching out to the Mobile Cancer Screening 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 at https://hnhbscreenforlife.ca/. Residents can contact Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213 or the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach at 1 855-338-3131 or (905) 975-4467 to obtain a FIT if they do not have a regular healthcare provider.
For more information, please contact:
Hamilton Health Sciences