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Friday, October 07, 2022

COVID-19 disruptions leave many in Hamilton at-risk for colorectal cancer | inTheHammer

By Anthony Urciuoli

Published March 16, 2022 at 10:03 am

COVID-19 disruptions leave many in Hamilton at-risk for colorectal cancer | inTheHammer

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in colorectal cancer screening, leaving many Hamilton residents at risk for preventable cancer.

According to the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant (HNHB) Regional Cancer Screening Program, over 40 per cent of screen-eligible 50-74-year-olds in the region are overdue for a screening.

“Screening increases the chances of finding cancer early. When caught early, nine out of 10 people can be cured,” says Dr. Meghan Davis, Regional Primary Care Lead for Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant. “If someone has undiagnosed colorectal cancer and does not get screened, the chance for early and more effective treatment may be missed.”

HNBH says nearly 800 people who have had an abnormal ‘poop test’ — or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) — have not completed the recommended follow-up.

People ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms of cancer or first-degree family history are encouraged to get screened by completing a FIT every two years through the province’s free ColonCancerCheck Program.

“The FIT can find cancer early, even before symptoms start. It can even detect evidence of pre-cancerous growths that can easily and safely be removed before they ever turn into cancer,” adds Dr. Davis.

The FIT detects traces of blood in the stool that are invisible to the naked eye. The painless test only takes two minutes to complete and can be done at home

“We have all taken measures to stay safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and getting checked for colon cancer is also part of taking care of our health,” says Dr. Davis. “I encourage people to speak with their healthcare provider if they are overdue for a FIT and to complete the recommended follow-up if they have a test with abnormal results.”

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month.

For more information, visit the HNHB Regional Cancer Program website at hnhbscreenforlife.ca.

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