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February 28, 2012
Dr. Brian Yan, Regional Endoscopy Lead for the South West Regional Cancer Program and citywide Medical Director of Endoscopy for LHSC and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, and eight-year colon cancer survivor Brian Howard (right) are joined by London Knights Greg McKegg and Jared Knight.
In support of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, South West Regional Cancer Program, ColonCancerCheck(CCC), and the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) London Knights and Owen Sound Attack have teamed up to urge Ontarians to take a shot at colorectal cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death and the third most diagnosed cancer in Ontario.
In 2011, an estimated 8,100 people in the province were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 3,250 people died from the disease.
South West Regional Cancer Program, CCC, the London Knights and the Owen Sound Attack are raising awareness about colorectal cancer screening at home games in March. Canadian Cancer Society volunteers are supporting National Colorectal Cancer Month by assisting at events across the province.
“I’m very pleased that the OHL is helping to raise awareness about colorectal cancer by encouraging more people to get screened,” says Dr. Brian Yan, Regional Endoscopy Lead for the south west region and citywide Medical Director of Endoscopy for London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care London. “It’s critical for people to know that when it comes to colorectal cancer, a person has a 90 per cent chance of being cured when the cancer is detected early.
ColonCancerCheck, Ontario’s colorectal cancer screening program, recommends that all Ontarians aged 50 to 74 and those with a family history be screened for colorectal cancer. Often there are no symptoms in the early stages, but screening can detect colorectal cancer at its earliest stages when treatment is most effective. For those at average risk for colorectal cancer, a simple home test – the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) – is recommended once every two years.
“A Fecal Occult Blood Test is a simple, non-invasive test that is available for free and done at home,” says Dr. Linda Rabeneck, Vice President of Prevention and Cancer Control, Cancer Care Ontario. “Studies show that when this screening test is performed every two years, for individuals ages 50 to 74, followed up with a colonoscopy for those with an abnormal test, it will reduce death from colorectal cancer by 16 per cent over a decade. Colorectal cancer screening can be the difference between life and death.”
According to the Cancer Quality Council of Ontario’s 2011 Cancer System Quality Index, in the South West LHIN, the percentage of males and females age 50 to 74 who did an FOBT within a two-year interval was 30.2 per cent in 2008-2009. This is an improvement from the 2006-2007 data and in line with the Ontario average of 29.9 per cent.
“It’s concerning that only 30.2 per cent of eligible south west residents are getting screened regularly for colorectal cancer using the FOBT,” says Yan. “Getting screened means having a test even when you feel perfectly well – and if it can save your life, you shouldn’t have to think twice about it.”
The FOBT is the most widely available test for screening for colorectal cancer. FOBT kits can be obtained through family physicians or nurse practitioners. Those without a family physician or nurse practitioner can pick up an FOBT kit from a local pharmacy or by calling Telehealth at 1-866-828-9213.
For those at increased risk because of family history (a parent, sibling or child) with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer, colonoscopy is advised beginning at age 50, or 10 years earlier than the age at which their relative was diagnosed – whichever is earlier.
“Getting checked and screened on the ice can be a nuisance but when it comes to cancer it can save your life,” says OHL Commissioner, David Branch. “The OHL is proud to support this important cause and we urge all of our supporters who are eligible to get screened through ColonCancerCheck.”
The London Knights and the Owen Sound Attack are two of 10 participating teams across the province hosting events at all home games in March, to remind people that screening saves lives.
For more information on cancer screening and the right time to get screened, Ontarians can visit ontario.ca/screenforlife and complete the “Time to Screen” tool.