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Get Screened

Women and men ages 50-74 should get screened regularly for colon cancer. Colon cancer screening saves lives in two important ways:

  • Screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer. Polyps are small growths that can develop in the colon, often with no symptoms in early stages of growth.
  • Screening can find cancers early. Early detection means more treatment options and better outcomes.
There are two screening tests for colon cancer – the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you.

Screening is only recommended for people who are not experiencing symptoms of colon cancer. Symptoms can include blood in your stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, or weight loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your doctor about a referral for diagnostic testing to determine the cause of these symptoms.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

FIT is recommended every 2 years for people who do not have a personal history of adenomas or a significant family history of colon cancer.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is recommended every 5 years for people with at least 1 of the following:

  • 1 first degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son) with colon cancer diagnosed under the age of 60; or,
  • 2 or more first degree relatives with colon cancer diagnosed at any age; or,
  • A personal history of adenomas. Adenomas are a type of non-cancerous tumours.
Screening is only recommended for people who are not experiencing symptoms. Talk to your doctor about a referral for diagnostic testing if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Weight loss 
If you have a personal history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you should continue to obtain care through your specialist or doctor as you have individual needs that cannot be met with a population approach to screening.
 

Screening may lead to additional tests to determine the reason for an abnormal screening result. This does not mean a cancer was found. The majority of people called back for additional tests will not have cancer.


  • Screening may lead to additional tests to determine the reason for an abnormal screening result. This does not mean a cancer was found. The majority of people called back for additional tests will not have cancer.
  • Certain cancers may never cause any symptoms or affect life expectancy or quality of life. However, research shows that most colon cancers are harmful and that colon cancer should be detected and treated as early as possible.
  • There can be risks with colonoscopy such as bleeding and bowel perforation, and in rare cases, death.
For more information about colon screening, please see this brochure (also available in PunjabiSimplified Chinese and Traditional Chinese).
 
The provincial Colon Screening Program is an organized population-based program aimed at reducing colon cancer incidence and mortality by promoting the early detection and prevention of colon cancer.

The full Colon Screening Program has been available in most health authorities across BC since November 2013.*

Family doctors can register patients between the ages of 50 to 74 who are not experiencing symptoms into the program. Patients with symptoms should be referred to a specialist for assessment.Colon cancer screening saves lives in two ways – preventing colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer and finding cancers early when there are more treatment options and better outcomes.

There are two screening tests for colon cancer – the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for average risk individuals and colonoscopy for individuals at a higher than average risk of colon cancer. Primary care providers will help patients determine which test is right for them.

Patients who are at high risk or have abnormal FIT results will be referred by the program to a patient coordinator for their community for pre-colonoscopy assessment.

Once a patient has been registered into the program, they are placed in the BC Cancer Agency’s centralized colon screening registry, which will send rescreening reminders to program participants and their family physicians at the appropriate interval. Regular screening at age 50 is key to preventing colon cancer.

Regular colon cancer screening saves lives in two ways – preventing colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer and finding cancers early when there are more treatment options and better outcomes.

One of the benefits of this organized approach to colon screening is the development and implementation of quality assurance measures which allow for the monitoring and improvement of program performance and patient outcomes.

The Colon Screening Program builds on the experiences of the Colon Check® pilot, which ran in a number of BC communities from 2009 to 2013.

NOTE: Colon Check® participants will be transitioned to the new Colon Screening Program  and notified by the BC Cancer Agency at the appropriate interval and will be asked to see their family doctor regarding re-screening.

The Colon Screening Program is a joint effort by the Ministry of Health; the BC Cancer Agency, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority; Regional Health Authorities.

The Colon Screening Program is authorized to collect personal information under the authority of section 26 (c) of BC’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The information is used to support patient flow through the screening process, advise patients of results, remind GPs and patients when the patient is due for rescreening or followup, quality assurance and performance monitoring of the screening process. Any questions regarding the collection of the information can be directed to the Operations Director, Cancer Screening (Address: 801-686 W. Broadway, Vancouver, BC, V5Z1G1, Phone: 1-877-702-6566, Email: screening@bccancer.bc.ca)

* The program is currently not available in the North.
 
The Colon Check® pilot, a population-based screening program for colorectal cancer, was launched in 2009 in 3 BC communities- Penticton, Powell River and Vancouver. The pilot has been very successful and to date has completed over 20,000 screens and identified over 55 patients with cancer in the 3 communities. Pre-cancerous lesions have also been removed in hundreds of patients.

The new Colon Screening Program builds on the experiences of the pilot in an effort to develop a more accessible, affordable and sustainable screening program model that would work for individuals no matter where in BC they live.

When does the Colon Check® pilot end?
The Colon Check pilot has now ended. All Colon Check patients have been transitioned to the new Colon Screening Program.

What do I do if I want to get screened for colon cancer after April 1, 2013?
Talk to your doctor about participating in the Colon Screening Program. For more information on how to get tested click here.

How is the new Provincial Colon Screening Program different from the Colon Check® pilot?
Many aspects of the pilot will carry over into the new program, including the use of the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). The key difference is that you will now need to go see your doctor for an order form to pick-up a FIT kit from participating laboratories.

What do I do if I’m a Colon Check® participant waiting to be recalled for my next screening?
You will be notified by the BC Cancer Agency at the appropriate interval by mail to see your family doctor regarding re-screening.

If I still have my Colon Check® test kit, can I use it and drop-it off to be processed?
An unused Colon Check test kit expires 6 months from the date of pick-up. Check the expiry date on the test. If the test is still valid, you can drop it off at one of the laboratories listed in the instructions provided in your FIT.

Now that the pilot has ended, what will happen to the sample I recently dropped off?
If your sample was dropped off prior to the pilot ending, it will be processed as per usual. If your results are normal they will be mailed to you, if they are abnormal we will arrange for a coordinator affiliated with the pilot to discuss follow-up options with you.
 

SOURCE: Get Screened ( )
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