Colorectal cancer screening saves lives
It was during Colorectal Cancer Screening Month back in March 2012 that Donna Gallant took a test that saved her life.
The Summerside resident ordered a FIT Kit at-home test that came back positive. After undergoing surgery and months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, Gallant is now cancer-free and an advocate for getting screened early.
“I tell all my friends to get the test – it’s simple and takes just a few minutes,” Gallant said. “A lot of people wait until they feel unwell to go to the doctor, and then it’s too late.”
Screening using the FIT Kit is recommended every two years for those of average risk who are 50 to 74 years of age. Individuals are considered average risk if they have no family history of colorectal cancer (parent or sibling); or are not experiencing symptoms such as change in bowel movements, visible blood in their stool or excessive vomiting.
“March is always a good time to remind Islanders that screening is the best way to find cancer early, and potentially save your life,” Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson said. “We have excellent health care support systems across our province and I encourage all Islanders to talk about their own risk factors with their primary care provider, who can help determine the screening option that is best for them.”
Colorectal cancer is the third-most-common cancer and second leading cause of death among Islanders. Even with Prince Edward Island’s aging population, just 25 per cent of eligible Islanders aged 50 and 74 have been screened for colorectal cancer during the last two years using the FIT Kit.
“Colon cancer affects men and women equally, and the risk of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer increases with age,” Screening Program Coordinator Anja Nied-Kutterer said. “Regular screening for colon cancer using a FIT Kit can improve a person’s chance for early detection and a complete recovery, which is why it’s important for Islanders to speak with their primary care provider about their risk factors and make screening part of their health routine.”
Call the PEI Colorectal Cancer Screening Program toll-free 1-888-561-2233 or visit Get Screened to request a FIT Kit or to get more information about the province’s colorectal cancer screening program.
Screening for colorectal cancer may be done by a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) or by colonoscopy.
A FIT test can detect blood in the stool which can be a sign of pre-cancer. FIT can be done in the comfort of a person’s own home by following the instructions provided in the kit. If blood is found, then further consult with a doctor or nurse practitioner will determine what follow-up procedures (such as a colonoscopy) are needed.
A person may be of increased risk for colorectal cancer and should consult a health professional if they:
• have a family history of colorectal cancer
• have a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
• are experiencing any of the following symptoms: change in bowel movements, blood (bright red or dark) in your stool, long-standing diarrhea or constipation, weight loss or fatigue, or extreme vomiting.
Senior Communications Officer