Many people in Northwestern Ontario are still not completing the recommended screening test to check for colon cancer. Colon Cancer Awareness Month launches today, and Dr. Nicole Zavagnin, Regional Primary Care Lead for Cancer Care Ontario at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, urges men and women in our region to get screened for colon cancer by completing a simple, ‘do it yourself’, take-home kit.
“The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit is a safe and easy-to-complete cancer screening test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which can be an early sign of colon cancer,” explains Zavagnin. The test for colon cancer can be done in the comfort of your own home. “The FOBT kit is less invasive than other cancer screening tests, allowing people to complete the test in the comfort and privacy of their home. It only takes a few minutes to complete and requires little preparation, so it’s easy to fit into your busy schedule,” she adds.
The FOBT kit is intended for men and women between the ages of 50-74 who have no family history or symptoms of colon cancer. “Colon cancer is 90% treatable if caught early,” Zavagnin says. “Screening helps to find colon cancer early when there are no uncomfortable symptoms, such as persistent diarrhea and stomach pain, and when it is easier to treat.”
Even with the convenience of the FOBT kit, over 40% of people in our region are overdue, meaning they have not been screened for colon cancer within the two year guideline. “The FOBT kit is unique when compared to other medical tests. There is no appointment needed to complete the test, since you do this at home. However with our busy lives, many people may not prioritize the FOBT kit or procrastinate and forget to complete the test before it expires. The FOBT kit is the best way for average risk people to screen for colon cancer. The low number of screening in our region is a call to action for health care providers and patients to make sure that all eligible adults in our region are aware of and have access to screening,” states Dr Zavagnin.
There are many outlets for eligible people to receive a FOBT kit, including your health care provider, the Screen for Life Coach (1-807-684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031), and Telehealth Ontario (1-866-828-9213).
If interested in finding out your personal risk for developing colon cancer, as well as five other types of cancers, check out www.MyCancerIQ.ca. This simple, online self-assessment tool includes a personalized action plan for all individuals that can be shared with family and health care providers.
For more information on colon cancer screening in Ontario, visit www.tbrhsc.net/cancerscreening.