“It’s time to get FIT”, says Dr. Nicole Zavagnin, Regional Primary Care Lead with Cancer Care Ontario at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre. “March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, which is a great reminder to make sure that your colon cancer screening is up-to-date.”
Prevention and Screening Services at our Hospital has launched a campaign called ‘Get the scoop from your poop!’ to help encourage anyone between the ages of 50 and 74 years to get screened for colon cancer. In June of 2019, Ontario replaced its fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit with a newer, more sensitive and simpler test called a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit. The test still requires that average risk adults (no first-degree family history of colon cancer – e.g. parent, sibling, child) collect a stool sample to send to a lab for testing, but there are some benefits to the new test.
“Large polyps and colon cancers tend to be fragile and bleed easily. This leaves tiny amounts of blood in the stool. The FIT kit is powerful enough to detect these tiny amounts of blood in the stool, such small amounts you would never be able to see it,” said Dr. Zavagnin. “This allows the test to help detect colon cancer early, when it’s more easily treated and has a greater chance for cure. In fact, the FIT kit is even powerful enough to pick up on large polyps before they can develop into a cancer.”
Currently, 42% of eligible adults in Northwestern Ontario are not up-to-date with their cancer screening. This is an issue since colon cancer is 90% curable if caught early. Cancer Care Ontario sends reminder letters to eligible adults reminding them to make an appointment with their health care provider to get screened. They also send letters once your screening is complete to share the results of your test with you.
“If your FIT kit results are positive, you will be advised to have a colonoscopy to look and see if the blood that was found is coming from a large polyp or colon cancer,” explained Dr. Zavagnin. “There is strong evidence that FIT kits are helping to pick up early cancers and even pre-cancerous polyps, which makes it very worthwhile for all eligible adults to get screened.”
This March, get the scoop from your poop. Get screened for colon cancer. Call your health care provider to book an appointment to get your FIT kit today. If you don’t have a health care provider, you can call the Screen for Life Coach at (807) 684-7777 or 1-800-461-7031 or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
For more information about colon cancer screening, visit: www.tbrhsc.net/cancerscreening.