Yukoners aged between 50 and 74 are encouraged to get screened for colon cancer.
Get screened today. Find it early. Prevent it. Treat it.
Since January 2017, over 8,375 Yukoners have chosen to get screened.
Colon cancer is the 3rd most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in Yukon. Colon cancer can occur at any age, but over 90% of new cases occur in people aged 50 years or older in Canada. There is strong scientific evidence that colon cancer can be prevented through regular screening and early detection.
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.
Who is at risk?
Your risk of getting colon cancer is higher if:
- someone in your family has had colon polyps or colon cancer;
- you’ve had colon polyps before; or
- you have inflammatory bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
Apart from people at higher risk, there is little evidence to support screening people outside the 50 to 74 age range.
When should I get tested?
The time to get screened is before you have symptoms. You can feel well and not even know that you have polyps or colon cancer.
In Yukon, colon screening with a FIT test is recommended for asymptomatic women and men, aged 50 to 74. This coincides with the age at diagnosis for the majority of Yukon colon cancer cases.
Having regular colon cancer screening every 2 years, can detect and treat pre-cancerous polyps and early cancers – before they've had a chance to develop or spread. The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) can detect the early warning signs of colon cancer and save your life.
If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may need to get checked before the age of 50. A colonoscopy may be how you get checked. Talk to your health care provider about your family history and find out which test is right for you.
How can you get tested
Provide 1 stool sample using the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). FIT is a take home test that requires no preparation or dietary restrictions.
Step 1 – Get the FIT test
- Talk to your primary care provider and ask for a FIT; or
- phone ColonCheck 867-667-5497 or toll free 1-844-347-9856.
Step 2 – Before you begin
- Read all the instructions carefully.
- Eat and drink normally.
- Do not do the FIT if you see blood in your stool or urine.
- If you need to pee, do so before you take the FIT.
Step 3 – Do the FIT test
- Review your requisition to ensure the information on it is correct.
- Make any changes on your requisition and write the date of sample collection.
- Follow the instructions on how to use the FIT sheet included in your kit.
If you need FIT collection instructions in another language contact ColonCheck.
Step 4 – Drop off your sample within 2 to 4 days (the sooner, the better) at:
- Whitehorse General Hospital Lab;
- your community health centre; or
- your community hospital.
Step 5 – FIT results
Whitehorse General Hospital processes all FIT samples. The lab at the hospital will analyze your sample. They send your results to your primary health care provider.
What if your results are abnormal?
There are many reasons for an abnormal FIT result, cancer or pre-cancerous signs are just 2 of them. Hemorrhoids (piles) can cause blood in stools, too.
What happens after an abnormal FIT?
The follow-up test for an abnormal FIT result is a colonoscopy. This will show where the blood is coming from. If your results are normal, ColonCheck sends you an invitation letter to screen for colon cancer in 2 years.
What are the symptoms?
Many people with colorectal cancer don't have symptoms in the early stages of the disease. This is why it's important to have regular screenings. Colon cancer symptoms will not alert you to the presence of a tumour. Colon cancer symptoms may include:
- narrow stools;
- abdominal cramps;
- bloody stools;
- unexplained weight loss;
- loss of appetite;
- sense of fullness;
- gas and bloating;
- fatigue; and
- abdominal pain or discomfort.
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.
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.
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.
For more information and to get a FIT test speak with your doctor, primary health care provider email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone ColonCheck Yukon 867-667-5497, or toll free in Yukon 1-844-347-9856.