The Colon Cancer Prevention Program was developed by Cancer Care Nova Scotia with the goal of decreasing the number of colon cancer deaths in Nova Scotia by facilitating regular screening. Screening kits are mailed out to all Nova Scotians aged 50-74 every second year.
Why is screening for colon cancer important?
Regular screening is important because colon cancer can often develop without any warning signs. The goal is to catch and remove pre-cancerous growths (polyps) early before cancer develops or before it spreads. When found early, colon cancer is preventable and treatable.
How do you screen for colon cancer?Polyps (growths) in the small intestine often leak small amounts of blood into the stool. A Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) can find these small traces of blood. The FIT looks for very small amounts of blood in your stool.
As of July 2016, there is a new test for colon cancer screening in Nova Scotia. You take a small sample of stool according to the instructions in your kit and return it, along with the Participant Form, to the lab in the postage-paid envelope. The lab will analyze the test and send a letter with your results to you and your doctor or nurse practitioner. The FIT is a simple test that can be done in the privacy of your home.
Click here (PDF) for instructions on how to take the FIT.
What does a normal result mean?
A normal result means that no blood was found in your stool. You will be asked to repeat the screening test in two years.
What does an abnormal result mean?
- An abnormal result means that blood was found in your stool. More testing needs to be done to see where the blood is coming from. It could be coming from a polyp or cancer or even from hemorrhoids. Some polyps could develop into colon cancer if they are not removed.
- If your results are abnormal, we will contact you to arrange for a follow-up test called a colonoscopy.
- For every 1000 people who complete the FIT, about 20 people will have an abnormal result and will be referred for a colonoscopy. It is estimated that 2 of those people will have colon cancer found at their colonoscopy. Several people will have polyps that may lead to cancer if they are not removed during their colonoscopy.
What should I do if I have any questions or concerns about colon cancer?
If you have questions or concerns about colon cancer, please speak to your family doctor.
For more information about the Colon Cancer Prevention Program, you may call
1-866-599-2267, or visit their website at www.cancercare.ns.ca