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A REAL LIFESAVER

- Local Residents Reminded About the Importance of Getting Screened for Colon Cancer -

When it comes to colon cancer, what you don’t know can hurt you.

The Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit is reminding local residents – especially men between 55 and 65 years of age – to get screened for colon cancer. The reminder comes during Colon Cancer Awareness Month in March.

While it is recommended that both men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 years of age should be regularly screened for colon cancer, men in their mid-50s to mid-60s are of particular interest. Typically, men in this age range are less likely than women to have ever been screened for colon cancer.

“Colon cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in Ontario for both men and women, but it’s also among the most treatable,” says Elsie Azevedo Perry, a Registered Dietitian and Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “When caught early, colon cancer has a nine in 10 chance of being cured, so that’s why screening for the disease is so important.”

Colon cancer is cancer of the large intestine (colon), which is the lower part of the digestive system. The disease typically has a slow, silent progression with many patients not exhibiting symptoms until later stages. Without early detection of colon cancer, people miss out on the chance for early, more effective treatment, Azevedo Perry says.

In Ontario, it’s easy to get screened for colon cancer with a free take-home test called the Fecal-Occult Blood Test (FOBT).

The FOBT is a quick, painless and simple test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for blood, which can be caused by colon cancer. An abnormal result does not necessarily mean that a person has colon cancer, but it does mean that additional testing is needed. It is recommended that Ontario residents between the ages of 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history of colon cancer get screened every two years using the FOBT kit.

Take-home FOBT kits are available from health care providers. People without a health care provider can get an FOBT kit by calling Telehealth Ontario toll-free at 1-866-828-9213 or visiting Cancer Care Ontario.

People with a family history of colon cancer in a parent, sibling or child are at increased risk for developing the disease. These individuals should get screened with a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, or 10 years earlier than the age at which their family member was diagnosed, whichever occurs first. In these situations, people should speak to health care providers for more information.

For media inquiries, contact:

Elsie Azevedo Perry, Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention Coordinator, HKPR District Health Unit, (905) 885-9100.

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