Yukoners between 50 and 74 are encouraged to get screened for colon cancer.
What is colon cancer?
Colon cancer generally develops from tiny growths call polyps inside the colon or rectum. Polyps start out as small harmless growths on the inner wall of the colon. However, as polyps grow larger, some may turn into cancer. Almost all cases of colon cancer begin with the development of benign or non-cancerous polyps.
Why should you get tested?
Colon cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer. It is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in the Yukon.
Screening for colon cancer increases the chance of finding it early. 90 per cent of cases that are caught early are cured. If you have colon cancer and do not get screened, you may miss the chance for early and more effective treatment.
Who should get tested?
You should get screened if you have a higher risk of getting colon cancer but have no symptoms and generally feel fine.
Your risk of getting colon cancer is average if:
- you are between 50 and 74 years old; and
- you do not have a close family member like a parent, sibling or child who has been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Your risk of getting colon cancer is higher if:
You have a close family member such as a parent, sibling or child who has been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Which test should you take?
Talk to your health care provider about your family history to find out which test is right for you.
What is the at-home screening test?
The home screening test is the best way to prevent colon cancer. It can detect very small amounts of blood in the stool, which can be a sign of polyps or early stage cancer. The home screening test can help find:
- polyps before they turn into cancer; and
- colon and rectal cancer early when it is easier to treat.
How you can get tested
Step 1 – Get the at-home screening test
- talk to your primary health care provider; or
- contact ColonCheck Yukon program:
- by email email@example.com; or
- by phone 867-667-5497 or toll-free 1-844-347-9856.
Step 2 – Take the test
Follow the home screening test instructions or watch the video.
Step 3 – Drop off your sample within 2 days (the sooner, the better) at:
Step 4 – Results
Whitehorse General Hospital will analyze your test and forward the results to your health care provider. Your health care provider will notify you if your results are positive.
What does a positive result mean?
A positive result means that blood was found in your stool. Just because there is blood in your stool does not mean you have colon cancer. If you receive a positive test, your health care provider will refer you to a colonoscopy. The colonoscopy will tell you if you have colon cancer.
What does a normal result mean?
A normal result means that blood was not found in your stool. The screening program will send you a reminder to repeat your home screening test every 2 years.
What does an unsatisfactory result mean?
An unsatisfactory result means that the your sample could not be analyzed. Your sample may not have been analyzed because:
- the sample leaked;
- your stool sample was too small or too large; or
- your container is missing some of your personal information.
If your result is unsatisfactory, you'll be sent a new home screening test by mail.
What is a colonoscopy?
A colonoscopy is an exam that allows the doctor to look at the lining of your colon.
Only a colonoscopy can tell you if you have colon cancer. Even if you have had normal results in the past, a new positive result may mean something in your colon has changed and you need a colonoscopy to find out more.
How to lower the risk of getting colon cancer?
A healthy lifestyle and regular screenings can help prevent colon cancer.
Eat more fruits and vegetable. Make smart food choices by limiting how much red and processed meats, saturated fats and salt you eat.
Here are some helpful tips for your diet.
Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity can keep your colon healthy. It doesn’t have to be complicated. The more active you are, the lower your risk of cancer is.
Quit or reduce smoking. Smokers' helpline has proven, free and personalized tools to help you quit successfully.
For more information visit Quitpath.
Cut down on alcohol consumption
If you choose to drink, follow these low-risk alcohol guidelines. The less alcohol you consume, the lower your risk of cancer.
Talk to your primary care provider
Your primary care provider is a great source of information. They can help you:
- understand what a healthy body weight means for you;
- quit smoking; and
- decide on the best screening test for you.
Make colon cancer screening part of your regular health routine. It could save your life.
If you have questions or to get an at home screening test, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 867-667-5497. Phone toll free in the Yukon 1-844-347-9856.
You can also speak with your primary health care provider or your community health centre.