No single cause for colorectal cancer

New screening tool playing important role in early detection

  • Apr. 23, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is not something everyone wants to talk about. But, the word needs to get out there. And that starts with doing the math.

CRC is the third most common cancer and the second most common cause of death from cancer for both Canadian women and men. In 2013, approximately 3,000 people in B.C. were diagnosed with this cancer. Yet, CRC is a highly treatable cancer if it is detected early and it is up to 90% preventable with timely and thorough testing or “CRC screening”. Unfortunately as it stands today, nearly half of those diagnosed find out too late.

There is no single cause for developing CRC, but some people who are considered to be at higher risk than the general population for CRC include: people with a family history of CRC, people already diagnosed with polyps or early-stage CRC, and people who have inflammatory bowel disease. The risk of CRC rises with age. More than 94 per cent of new cases diagnosed each year in B.C. are men and women age 50 and older. The risk is also increased for those with a family history of CRC. Other risk factors include excessive alcohol consumption, a diet high in fat, red meat or fried or charbroiled foods, smoking and obesity.

To reduce the risk of CRC, it’s important to maintain a healthy body weight and avoid weight gain around the waist. Regular exercise and a diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, beans, poultry and fish are all components of maintaining a healthy body weight. (A colon-healthy diet includes eating 25-35 grams of fibre daily.)

Many people diagnosed with CRC never had any symptoms but warning signs include blood in the stool, abdominal pain, weight loss, nausea and vomiting.

The new British Columbia Provincial Colon Screening Program (effective November 2013) is an important tool in screening for CRC which, if detected early, is a highly survivable form of cancer – approximately 90 per cent. Under the provincial colon screening program, doctors and nurse practitioners can refer average risk patients between the ages of 50 and 74 – without symptoms – for a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) once every two years. FIT detects blood in your stool, which can be a sign of polyps that may need to be removed to prevent or  to treat cancer. FITs are done at home and detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool – a possible sign of colon cancer. (In a February 04, 2013 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers found that across 19 studies, FITs caught more than three-quarters of colon tumors, and were very good at ruling out the cancer.) Patients with a significant family history of CRC will be referred directly for a screening colonoscopy by their health care provider.

Screening for colorectal cancer is easy and convenient. All you need to do is have a stool test once you turn 50 – and keep having one every two years. A stool test might be something you’d rather avoid. But it could save your life – it’s that simple. If this is something you need to do, make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner.

– Contributed by Agassiz Community Health Centre

Just Posted

Relationships, continuity top health-care concerns for Agassiz residents

Feedback during Fraser Health events showed access to health care needs to improve

Development on the horizon for Harrison Hot Springs Marina

The property has been the subject of a number development proposals over the years

Chilliwack Players Guild brings first ever radio play to stage

An Affair of Honour is based on a true story, written by the father of a Chilliwack man

‘Big hearts and even bigger feet’: Comedian sends Harrison humour to the silver screen

Jonny Harris will see the town highlighted on his small-town comedy series ‘Still Standing’

More staff being hired at Fraser Valley seniors homes

Number of care hours for residents lags behind provincial targets

VIDEO: Car flies across median, flips over edge of Brunette overpass

Dash cam footage shows a vehicle speeding across a Lower Mainland overpass

Lower Mainland teacher resigned after ‘inappropriate discussions’ with elementary students

Tracy Joseph Fairley resigned from Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows district April 23, 2018

Surrey needs 350 more cops, activist tells council

‘Right now we are 350 police behind what our population requires,’ politicians are told

Indigenous energy summit includes session on pipeline ownership options

Steven Saddleback of the Indian Resource Council says a session will feature presentations on financing models

Japanese grand champion Kisenosato retires from sumo

The 32-year-old Kisenosato was the first Japanese-born wrestler in 19 years to gain promotion to sumo’s highest rank

UPDATE: Accused B.C. high school killer found fit to stand trial

Gabriel Klein is accused in the 2016 stabbing death of Letisha Reimer at Abbotsford Senior Secondary

Right-wing, neo-Nazi, white supremacist groups an increasing concern: Goodale

Ten people died in April 2018 when Alek Minassian allegedly drove a rental van down the busy stretch in Toronto

Where mattresses go to die

Mattress Recycling opens the largest of its kind mattress-recycling facility in Hope

Canadian stock exchanges to conduct lottery for ‘POT’ ticker amid high demand

The symbol became available after fertilizer Potash Corp. officially merged with Agrium Inc. in early 2018

Most Read