SIX NATIONS – A simple, safe and painless take-home test could save your life when it comes to colorectal cancer. The Reclaiming Well-Being Cancer Free Lives committee wants to see more men and women getting screened.
If everyone more than 50 years of age was screened for colon cancer the rate of colon cancer would drop significantly. Colon cancer is one of the curable three; the others are breast and cervical cancer.
“Colon cancer screening can be the difference between life and death,” said Dr. Andrea East, Six Nations family doctor and Regional Aboriginal Clinical Lead for Cancer Care Ontario (CCO).
March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and the Hamilton Niagara Norfolk Brant Aboriginal Regional Cancer Program has partnered with CCO to invite eligible men and women to get screened.
When some people hear mention of colon cancer screening the first thing that comes to mind is a potentially uncomfortable colonoscopy, which is an examination of the colon using a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. Dr. East wants people in the community to know that a colonoscopy is not the first option for most and that the usual screening process is not a colonoscopy, but a FOBT (fecal occult blood test).
The FOBT is safe, painless and can be done at home. It only takes a few minutes a day on three separate days to complete and is available free of charge to Ontarians with Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage. People without a healthcare provider can also get an FOBT kit by contacting Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
Most often, a person with colon cancer has no early warning signs, but possible signs are abdominal pain, change in stool size, shape and colour or rectal bleeding. For people who have a parent, sibling or child with a history of colon cancer the risk of developing the disease is higher. For these people, a colonoscopy is recommended beginning at age 50, or 10 years earlier than the age at which their relative was diagnosed, whichever occurs first.
Dr. East said, “I have had a colonoscopy and the preparation was much easier than I thought it would be and the procedure was simple, painless and not embarrassing. I did not feel a thing.”
The Regional Aboriginal Cancer Program’s team includes Dr. East as Clinical Lead, Stephanie Morningstar, the Aboriginal Community Outreach Co-ordinator and Deena Klodt, the Aboriginal Navigator. Klodt advocates for Aboriginal cancer patients while they attend the cancer clinics and ensures they have a smooth transition home. Patients and families can contact Klodt directly at 905-387-9711 ext. 63312.
(Source: Two Row Times)