Four hundred twenty three Canadians are diagnosed with colorectal cancer every week. It is the second commonest cancer in both men and women. And unlike many other cancers, it is 90 percent curable if caught early.
Colorectal surgeon Dr. John Heine says the gastrointestinal tract is 26 feet long, but most GI cancers occur in the lower bowel. Dr. Heine wants people to understand that colorectal cancer, or CRC can be prevented. CRC is a genetic disease, so you can’t alter your genetics. But you can absolutely alter the progression of the disease. He explains CRC usually starts as benign or non-cancerous polyps. Those polyps can be removed before they grow and turn into cancer. This is why it’s so critical that people get screened for CRC.
The average person should be screened for CRC at age 50 with a colonoscopy. You can also do a stool test called a FIT test to look for microscopic amounts of blood in the stool. And Dr. Heine recommends people in Calgary start thinking about getting their name on the list by age 48 or 49 because in Calgary, if you do not have any symptoms and are not a high risk patient you can wait a long time for a colonoscopy. That said, if you do a FIT test and it comes back positive you’re going to get a colonoscopy urgently, within a couple of months. Or if you have symptoms, blood in the stool, pain with defecation, sudden weight loss or changes in bowel habits, you’re going to get a colonoscopy sooner.
To support colorectal research, treatment and awareness programs right here in Calgary, check out the Top to Bottom campaign. If you donate 250 dollars or more you will receive a gift certificate to dine out at a participating restaurant in Calgary. And the best part, 75 percent of the net proceeds of this campaign will go toward local initiatives.
For more information about colorectal cancer visit this website.