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March is National Colon Cancer Awareness Month – Effects 1 in 6 British Columbians

Vancouver – March is National Colon Cancer Awareness month, a disease that will affect 1 in 6 British Columbians and is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada. BC Cancer provides eligible British Columbians a user-friendly at-home screening test, known as a FIT test, which can be done safely at home. The results of which can signal whether a person needs to receive further testing. Victoria resident Sean did the at home test – and it saved his life.

“Colon cancer was not on my radar. I had no family history of cancer whatsoever. If I had ignored my doctor’s advice to screen for colon cancer,” says 50-year-old Sean, “the outcome could have been very different.” At the time of screening, Sean was not experiencing any symptoms but as he is 50 years old, his family doctor told him it was time to take the FIT test. BC Cancer recommends people with average risk of colorectal cancer begin regular screening at age 50.

“Regular screening offers the best chance of detecting the early signs of cancer,” says Dr. Jennifer Telford, medical director, BC Cancer Colon Screening Program. “In its early stages, there are no symptoms for colorectal cancer – which is why screening is so important. Screening can detect the early warning signs of colon cancer and save your life.”

Colon screening is recommended for people ages 50 – 74.

For more information about colon cancer, visit:

Colon cancer quick facts:

o   Colon cancer risk increases with age: 80 per cent of colon cancer cases are diagnosed in people over 50

o   When detected at its earliest stage, the survival rate for colon cancer is over 90 per cent

o   In Canada, one in 18 women and one in 14 men will develop colon cancer in their lifetimes – approximately one in 35 people is expected to die from the disease

o   In 2021, an estimated 3,630 people in B.C. will be newly diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

FIT quick facts:

o   The screening test for colon cancer is called the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). The test detects blood in stool which can be a sign of pre-cancer.

o   FIT kits are available in labs in B.C., primary care providers can provide a kit an eligible person with a requisition to pick up a free FIT kit from the lab. Tests are conducted within a person’s home and returned to the lab.

o   An abnormal FIT test would result in a referral to the local regional health authority for colonoscopy and a conclusive diagnosis.

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