More Islanders are taking the steps to screen for colorectal cancer than ever before thanks to a new take-home test.
The Canadian Cancer society is invading bathrooms across P.E.I. trying to get Islanders to think about the disease.
Lori Barker, a spokesperson for the Canadian Cancer Society, said it’s a new campaign to encourage people to get screened for colorectal cancer.
“Through that screening we know based on evidence that we can decrease that mortality rate and more people will survive. The earlier it’s diagnosed and treated, the more effective and successful the outcome,” she said.
The test is recommended once a year for people between the ages of 50 and 74, whether they have symptoms or not.
The Canadian Cancer Society said many people think a colonoscopy is the first detection of cancer — it’s not, the society said, these tests are. They’re also much easier than a colonoscopy.
On P.E.I., colorectal cancer is the third most common type of cancer — with the second highest mortality rate for women in the country. An estimated 110 new cases will be reported this year alone, and 55 people will die.
Charles Keliher first battled colon cancer 10 years ago and went through surgery and chemotherapy.
He said he could have avoided the drawn-out treatment if he had decided to have a regular screening.
“I didn’t follow that advice, and I’m a prime example of the fact that screening is so important to have that early detection,” he said.
More Islanders than ever before are now getting screened. Last year only 2,200 people got screened, this year that number has climbed to 4,000. Part of the reason for the jump in screenings could be Health PEI’s decision to begin offering the new easy at-home test.
At-home colorectal screening kits can be picked up at any community health centre, as long as a health card is presented.
Once completed, kits can be returned to those centres. Results take a few weeks to process.
Marla Delaney, the province’s colorectal screening program coordinator, said the stool test is simple.
“What the test does it is detects blood and then we further investigate what the source of blood is, for some people it may be something like irritable bowel or Crohn’s, but also there can be some growths or polyps in the colon which could become cancer down the road,” she said.