Originally Posted on HHS Share on March 9, 2017
WHY ARE WE BROADCASTING A COLONOSCOPY ON FACEBOOK?
Dr. Barry Lumb, physician in chief at HHS, and a well respected gastroenterologist, is performing the procedure for Colon Cancer Awareness Month. His patient, Dan, lost his mother to bowel cancer when she was just 59-years old. Because of this immediate family history, he has been having routine colonoscopies for a number of years.
“Doing this for people to see live on the internet is my contribution to awareness,” Dan says. “If colon cancer is caught early enough, it’s rarely fatal. I want people to know their screening options so more of them can beat it.”
“It’s important that people know the best screening option for them so we can catch this disease early and treat it.”
Colon cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. When it’s caught early, nine out of 10 people with the disease can be cured. If it’s caught after it has already spread to other parts of the body, treatment is less successful; only about one out of eight people whose colon cancer has spread will be cured.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SCREENING?
The risk of developing colon cancer goes up after the age of 50, and that’s the age when screening should begin for most people. Men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 are encouraged to get screened for colon cancer every two years as part of their routine medical care. For most people, this means taking a simple, at home test called an FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Test). The FOBT is for men and women in this age range with no symptoms or first degree family history (parent, sibling, child) of the disease.
“This is a really effective screening method,” says Dr. Lumb. “It’s important that people know the best screening option for them so we can catch this disease early and treat it.”
The FOBT is a safe and painless cancer screening test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood, which can be caused by colon cancer. This simple at home test is available free of charge to Ontarians with Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) coverage.
“That’s why we’re showing people how it’s done. We want people to know there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
If your FOBT comes back positive, the next step is a colonoscopy for a closer look. You should also talk to your family doctor about a colonoscopy if you have a first degree family history or you’re experiencing symptoms. People with that family history should begin screening ten years before the age at which their relative was diagnosed.
Even when they know they’re at risk, people sometimes shy away from receiving a colonoscopy because it seems like a scary procedure. Dan wants people to know that’s not the case.
“It’s very simple,” Dan says. “People should know that it’s quick and painless.”
“If you have a first-degree family history, symptoms, or a positive FOBT result, you shouldn’t wait to get a colonoscopy,” says Dr. Lumb. “That’s why we’re showing people how it’s done. We want people to know there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
To learn more about colorectal cancer screening, click here.