Friday, April 08, 2011
Eastern Ontario Health Unit
Free screening tests can help catch colorectal cancer early
Colorectal cancer (also known as colon cancer) is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Ontario. Because there are no physical signs or symptoms during the early stages of colorectal cancer, people are often unaware that they have it until the later stages when it is more difficult to treat. Fortunately, free screening tests are available that can help catch colorectal cancer early.
Most colorectal cancers start in the cells that line the inside of the colon and the rectum, which develop slowly into growths called polyps. These polyps can bleed into the colon or rectum, but it may not be obvious to the eye in the early stages of the cancer. As the cancer progresses, symptoms may become more apparent, including:
- abdominal discomfort (bloating, cramps, fullness)
- a change in bowel habits
- blood in the stool
- stools that are narrower than usual
- an urgent need to have a bowel movement
If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to speak to your doctor.
Screening tests can catch colorectal cancer early
There is good news. If colorectal cancer is detected early through regular screening, there’s a 90% chance of curing it. Screening tests such as the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) can help find colorectal cancer in its earliest stages before symptoms even develop. The FOBT is a simple at-home test, and is available for free through healthcare providers. People who are 50 or older should have an FOBT at least every two years.
Another type of screening is the colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is an examination of the lining of the rectum and colon using a long flexible tube with a camera on the end. Doctors may recommend a colonoscopy for people who are at increased risk (for example, if they have a close family member who has had colorectal cancer) or for those who have a positive FOBT result.
Find out more about colorectal cancer and screening by visiting http://www.coloncancercheck.ca. To learn more about cancer prevention, click here.
Source: Cancer Care Ontario