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Improved testing for early colon cancer detection

SHARON NAVARRO Strategic Communications, Lakeridge Health

SCUGOG: Durham residents now have access to the new Fecal Immunonchemical Test (FIT), a more accurate and easier screening method for colon cancer that is available free from primary care providers, as part of the provincial ColonCancerCheck program. The FIT is a simple, safe and accurate at-home test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny amounts of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer and/or pre-cancerous polyps (growths in the colon or rectum that can turn into cancer over time). Colorectal cancer, also called colon or bowel cancer, is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer death. According to Cancer Care Ontario, an estimated 11,595 Ontarians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 3,359 people died from the disease in 2018. Getting tested for colorectal cancer is the best way to find the disease early, when it is easier to treat. The FIT replaces the earlier fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and offers several advantages: • It is a more sensitive screening test, enabling quicker and earlier detection of colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps; • The FIT is more user-friendly with an easier-to-use collection device that reduces the amount of contact people have with their stool; • Only one stool sample is needed with FIT; and • Unlike earlier testing methods, there are no medication or dietary restrictions, including vitamin C and red meat. Cancer Care Ontario and the Central East Regional Cancer Program at Lakeridge Health recommend that people who have no symptoms and are at average risk of getting colon cancer get checked using FIT every two years. Someone is at average risk for colon cancer if they are 50 to 74 years old with no first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister or child) who has been diagnosed with colon cancer. People ages 50 to 74 can discuss their eligibility for ColonCancerCheck FIT screening with their health care provider. Anyone without a health care provider can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213. People living in a First Nation community may visit a health centre to discuss their eligibility for a FIT kit. LifeLabs will mail eligible people a FIT kit following a request from their health care provider. Once completed by the participant, the FIT can be mailed back to the lab or dropped off at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre ( ). Eligible people in Ontario will continue to receive letters to invite them to get screened, tell them about their test results, let them know if they need to get more tests done and remind them when it is time to be screened again. For more information on colon cancer screening in Ontario, visit .

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