Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program Encourages Men and Women to Get Checked Regularly for Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is among the most common causes of cancer death in Ontarians

KITCHENER, March 1, 2017 – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program with Cancer Care Ontario, is reminding Waterloo Wellington residents to get checked with a safe and painless take-home test. When caught early, nine out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer can be cured.

Colorectal cancer (commonly called ‘colon cancer’, ‘rectal cancer’ or ‘bowel cancer’) is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. It is estimated that in 2016, approximately 9,900 Ontarians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 3,200 Ontarians died from the disease. Despite this fact, many people are not getting checked – particularly men.                                                  

“In Waterloo Wellington region, approximately 42% of screen-eligible individuals are overdue for screening”, says Dr. Jonathan Love, Regional Colorectal Screening Lead with the Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program. “This makes it more important than ever to encourage the men and women in your life to get checked for this disease beginning in their early 50s – even if they have no family history of the disease or if they don’t have any symptoms such as changes in bowel habits like diarrhea or stomach pains that don’t go away.”

Cancer Care Ontario recommends that men and women at average risk between the ages of 50 and 74 get checked for colorectal cancer with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is a safe and painless cancer screening test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny drops of blood that we cannot see, which could be caused by colorectal cancer. An abnormal FOBT result does not necessarily mean that a person has colorectal cancer, but more testing with a colonoscopy is needed to find out why there is blood in their stool. Research shows that regular colorectal screening using an FOBT, for people who are 50 years of age and older, can reduce deaths from colorectal cancer.

Another option for people at average risk for colorectal cancer is to screen the colon with a procedure called flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS). A specially-trained registered nurse or physician checks the lining of the rectum and lower third of the colon for growths, called polyps, using a scope. If polyps are found by the RN, a colonoscopy with a physician is arranged. Registered Nurse Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (RNFS) is currently offered at St. Mary’s General Hospital and Grand River Hospital in Kitchener.

Colorectal cancer, when caught early can be 90% curable.  If colorectal cancer is caught after it has spread to other parts of the body, it is harder to treat.

 “Many people don’t realize that colorectal cancer may be present in the body for a long time before it causes physical symptoms. The role of colorectal screening is to catch the cancer early because it is highly treatable at that stage,” says Dr. Catherine Dubé, Clinical Lead, ColonCancerCheck, Cancer Care Ontario. “For people over 50, getting checked regularly can improve their chances of beating colorectal cancer. Men between the ages of 55 and 65 would particularly benefit from getting checked.”

Colorectal cancer can develop when polyps turn into cancer over time. People between 50 and 74 years of age without a parent, brother, sister or child who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer are considered to be at average risk for the disease and should get checked every two years with the safe and painless take-home test, called the FOBT. If you have done the test, and it was positive, ensure that you have followed up with your primary care provider to have the further testing necessary. 

Some people who have had polyps removed from their colon, as well as people with inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), may be at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer and may need to be checked regularly with colonoscopy instead of an FOBT.

To recognize Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, the Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program will continue to educate on and encourage screening at the following locations:

  • Waterloo Memorial Recreation Complex, 8:30 am – 12:30 pm on Wednesday, March 8
  • Cambridge Sports Park – winter hockey league playoffs, 3-8pm on Saturday, March 18
  • RIM Park in Waterloo – near the gymnasium, 9 am – 12 noon on Tuesday, March 21

Talk to your healthcare provider today about getting checked for colorectal cancer with the best screening test for you. People without a family doctor or nurse practitioner can get a take-home FOBT kit through Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213, and community pharmacies.

For more information on colorectal cancer screening in Ontario, visit cancercare.on.ca/colon.

About Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program

The Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program oversees the delivery and quality of cancer services for residents of Waterloo Region, Wellington County, and the southern portion of Grey County.  It is one of 14 regional cancer programs created by Cancer Care Ontario in 2005 to ensure cancer care is delivered according to province-wide quality standards.  The program includes services provided at Grand River Hospital’s Regional Cancer Centre, a top rated cancer centre in Ontario, in partnership with several community hospitals in the region.


For more information, please contact:

Lori Temple
Regional Coordinator
Waterloo Wellington Regional Cancer Program
lori.temple@grhosp.on.ca
519-749-4370 ext. 6965