Checking for Colon Cancer

Why is it important for men and women to get checked for colon cancer?

Feeling confident about your health is important as you deal with the challenges of life in a new country. One way to help stay healthy is to get checked, or screened, for cancer of the colon. The colon is the lower part of the intestines (bowel). In Ontario, colon cancer is among the leading causes of cancer death in men and women.

Screening tests can find colon cancer early, before you have signs or symptoms. In fact, nine out of 10 people whose colon cancer is caught early are cured. In its later stages, colon cancer can be treated, but it is harder to cure.

Who should be screened for colon cancer?

After age 50, the risk of getting colon cancer increases. Therefore, in Ontario it is recommended that men and women between the ages of 50 to 74 get screened for colon cancer.

What are the screening tests for colon cancer?

The FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Test) is the colon cancer screening test for men and women with an average risk of getting colon cancer (for example, people who have no family history of the disease). It can be done at home and checks your stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which can sometimes be caused by colon cancer. It takes a few minutes a day over three days to complete and is free for residents covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP). If you don’t have OHIP coverage, speak to a community health centre.

If your parent, sister, brother or child has had colon cancer, you have a higher risk of developing this disease and may need to get screened with a different test called a colonoscopy, perhaps before age 50. If you think you may be at high risk for colon cancer, ask your doctor whether you need high risk screening.

How can I arrange for an FOBT?

Your family doctor or nurse practitioner can give you an FOBT kit. It comes with simple instructions, which you can find online in 26 languages. Once you complete it, you can drop it off at a lab or mail it. In a few weeks, you will get the results from your doctor, as well as a results letter from Cancer Care Ontario. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can get an FOBT kit from Telehealth Ontario.

Why do some men and women get letters about colon cancer screening?

Regular screening is so important that Cancer Care Ontario an agency of the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, sends letters to eligible men and women inviting them to be screened. They also get letters that tell them their screening results and remind them when it is time to return for screening. It is your choice to be screened or not.

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Last updated: December 20, 2016 4001656