How colorectal cancer screening could make a life-saving difference
In the spring of 2014, Jeff had not been able to sleep for several months. The exhausted Toronto-based singer songwriter knew something was wrong and headed to his doctor for a physical. Because Jeff was in his 50s, his doctor asked him to complete a stool test.
"I encourage everyone to take charge of their own health and talk to their doctor about screening," shares Jeff. "Don't wait until you have symptoms like I did. I was lucky that my cancer was caught early and had not spread beyond my colon. If my doctor had not recommended the stool test, who knows where I would be today. I will never take my health for granted again."
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Canada. Despite the availability of screening programs in most parts of the country, about half of people with colorectal cancer are diagnosed after the disease has spread.
The Canadian Cancer Society strongly encourages people to talk to their healthcare professional about what cancer screening options are right for them. In general, we recommend that Canadians aged 50 to 74 who are not at high risk for colorectal cancer get screened every 2 years with a simple at-home stool test. When colorectal cancer is diagnosed at stage 4, survival is less than 15%. But, this jumps to 90% if diagnosed at stage 1.
Having your stool tested may seem odd, but it’s easy, it can be done in the comfort of your own home and could make a life-saving difference. Colorectal cancer screening can help catch cancers earlier or detect pre-cancerous changes that can be treated and stop the cancer from ever developing. In this way, screening can prevent colorectal cancers and colorectal cancer deaths.