CORNER BROOK When the colon cancer self-screening program was introduced in Corner Brook in July, the hope was that 2,000 western Newfoundlanders would participate in the first year.
A little more than three months into it and around 700 people have taken the short bit of time it takes to send off a sample of their bowel movements for analysis.
The kits, which include an applicator and sterile container, are available to anyone upon self-referral to their family doctor or by contacting the Newfoundland and Labrador Colon Cancer Screening Program.
All a participant has to do is simply streak the applicator across their feces, pop the applicator into the container and mail the swabbed sample off.
If the analysis is positive, the person will be contacted regarding followup testing. If it is negative, both they and their family doctor will get a letter advising them they are fine and won’t need another test done for two years.
The program targets folks between the ages of 50 and 74, who are considered average risk for colon cancer. Participants do not have to have any family history of colon cancer or any symptoms.
Dr. Jerry McGrath, the screening program’s medical director, was in Corner Brook this week to meet with various health professionals to further the awareness of the program in western Newfoundland.
He said the response so far has been fantastic and hopes it will continue.
“Colon cancer is a major problem in Newfoundland and Labrador, “ said Dr. Jerry McGrath, the screening program’s medical director. “Everyone probably knows someone who has been afflicted with colon cancer at some point.”
Early detection is the key, he added.
“If you catch it early, you can do something about it,” McGrath said. “If you leave it too late, you’re looking at all the nasty treatments no one wants to hear about, such as surgery, chemo(therapy) and radiation.”
The plan is to eventually have self-screening kits made available throughout the entire province.