“Make your bottom your top priority”, urges Canadian Cancer Society during Colon Cancer Awareness Month

04 March 2013

TORONTO -

Armed with a ‘cheeky’ slogan, the Canadian Cancer Society is aiming to grab the attention of those 50 and over during Colon Cancer Awareness Month this March. Getting checked for colon cancer is likely not at the top of anyone’s to do list, but the Society is encouraging Canadians to make their bottom their priority by getting checked. Many people may be surprised to learn that colon cancer is the number two cancer killer of men and women, yet it is 90% treatable when caught early.

“An important step in early detection or even preventing colon cancer is checking before you have any symptoms. Making sure you strike up the conversation with your doctor could save your life,” says John Atkinson, Director, Tobacco Control and Cancer Prevention, Canadian Cancer Society, Ontario Division. “We urge all Ontarians aged 50 and older to make their bottom their top priority. Talk to your doctor about getting checked for colon cancer. It could be as simple as an at-home test.”

The bottom line about colon cancer

Checking for colon cancer, also known as cancer screening, can be as simple as taking the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) - an at-home stool test taken in the privacy of a person’s home. This test can detect invisible amounts of blood in one’s stool. Finding blood doesn’t necessarily mean a person has colon cancer but it is a warning sign that requires further investigation by a healthcare provider.

Men and women ages 50 and older who do not have symptoms should get checked for colon cancer every two years using the fecal occult blood test. For people with symptoms or who are at higher risk of colon cancer, it is important that they talk to their doctors.

In 2012, estimated 8,700 Ontarians were diagnosed with colon cancer and approximately 3,450 people died from the disease - only lung cancer claims more lives.

Get the bottom line about colon cancer at stickittocoloncancer.ca and download a free discussion guide with questions to ask your doctor. While there, send an e-card to friends and family to help spread this potentially life-saving message.

Vicky’s story

Many people may find the idea of talking to their doctor about getting checked for colon cancer embarrassing, so they avoid the subject altogether. But for Vicky Pullam, a 64-year-old Ottawa-area retiree, having that dialogue saved her life.

When Vicky turned 50, her doctor was adamant that she begin getting checked for colon cancer using a simple at-home stool test – also referred to as a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) – despite the fact that she was healthy, active and had no symptoms.

And she didn’t let the “ick” factor of a stool test stop her from getting checked. “A lot of people feel uncomfortable about taking this test, but it’s easy and can be done in the privacy of your home. It’s a small inconvenience knowing it could save your life,” says Vicky.

For the next 12 years, Vicky continued to take the stool test every two years. In 2011, she noticed a change in her colon health and mentioned it to her doctor. A colonoscopy later revealed that Vicky indeed had a growth, called a polyp, in her colon. “I was sitting on a time bomb and envisioned what would have happened to the polyp if I hadn’t been checked.” The surgeon removed the polyp and biopsy results confirmed it had been found before becoming cancerous.

As a volunteer with the Canadian Cancer Society, Vicky educates others about the importance of getting checked for colon cancer. Now she also speaks from personal experience.

“I’ve become even more passionate about telling people who are 50 and over to make sure they do the FOBT and to talk to their doctor about other options for getting checked,” she says. Vicky is cancer-free because she regularly tested for colon cancer before having any symptoms.

Reliable information and support

People looking for trustworthy information about colon cancer or other support services can call the Canadian Cancer Society’s confidential Cancer Information Service (1 888 939-3333) and speak to a trained cancer information specialist.

The specialist can also provide information about the Society’s following services:

  • a volunteer-provided transportation program that helps patients get to and from their cancer-related treatment appointments when they have no way of getting there on their own
  • an over-the-phone and in-person support program that connects patients and caregivers with trained volunteers who’ve had cancer or cared for someone with cancer
  • an online community (CancerConnection.ca) that gives patients, survivors and caregivers a place to share support, ideas and advice

To access information about colon cancer around the clock, visit cancer.ca

The Canadian Cancer Society is a national community-based organization of volunteers whose mission is the eradication of cancer and the enhancement of the quality of life of people living with cancer. When you want to know more about cancer, visit our website www.cancer.ca or call our toll-free, bilingual Cancer Information Service at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

Gabrielle Scheliga

Communications Manager

Canadian Cancer Society

Ontario Division

Phone: 416-323-7038