The importance of early screening for colorectal cancer

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The importance of early screening for colorectal cancer
WATCH: It's the cancer that's almost always curable when caught early, and with the screening test being easy and painless, deaths from colorectal cancer should be rare. Linda Aylesworth explains why that's not the case, and what we can all do to change it – Mar 8, 2016

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada, affecting up to 7 per cent of the population. What makes it particularly tragic is the fact that it is preventable and, if caught early, highly treatable.

Every person 50 years of age and over is eligible for a FIT test, a simple procedure you can do in your own home. The test detects blood in the stool, a sign that something might be amiss in the bowel. If the test is positive the next step would be a colonoscopy, which involves inspecting the colon with a tiny camera on the end of a flexible tube.

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Ninety-six per cent of the time those screened in this way turn out to be perfectly healthy. But sometimes a polyp is found. Polyps can be pre-cancerous and are easily removed.

Even if cancer if found it can be cured, but success depends on how advanced it is. Stage 1 cancer has a 90 per cent recovery rate. But that drops off to just 20 per cent if it is Stage 4.

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Since March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, Vancouver’s St. Paul’s Hospital is hosting a public forum about colorectal cancer Wednesday night. To learn more about the event, click here.

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