Healthy Living in the North

Tales from the Man Cave: Colon Cancer Screening

Beat colon cancerOver the last few years I have personally lost some good friends to this terrible disease.

Colon cancer is one of those diseases that can be detected early and treatment can be started before it gets out of hand. Generally speaking, survival rates are better the earlier the cancer is diagnosed.

I can’t emphasize enough the need to let your family doctor know who you are every now and then and get a health screening at least once a year, once you are getting over 40. At least arrange an appointment and discuss with your physician what screening might be appropriate for your age. After 50, please go and discuss which option is best for you with your family doctor.

These cancers can be treated early and many are preventable. Changes in bowel movement such as blood in the toilet are always a good reason to visit your doctor. Chances are that it’s just due to internal hemorrhoids, but don’t bury your head in the sand. Changes in bowel habit either accompanied or unaccompanied by abdominal pain would also be another good reason to see the doc. Family history of bowel cancer is a powerful reason to take the test.

The new FIT test (Faecal Immunochemical Test), which your doctor can order, can be carried out every two years or so after the age of 50 and up to 74 years of age. It’s an easier test to take than a colonoscopy and it’s from the comfort of your own bathroom. For the FIT test, it’s a case of check your poo in the loo and take the sample back to the lab. Simple.

Many of us pay more attention to our teeth than our longevity!

Other tests such as checking blood sugar, blood pressure, tests for prostate cancer and cholesterol screening  can all be quite easily done. These can inform you of what lifestyle changes you might make to improve your changes of a healthy long life.

Lifestyle changes often require commitment, of course, but are much easier than going through chemotherapy or surgery.

There are no guarantees in life but a little friendly advice from a healthcare provider and a little reading accompanied by small changes in diet etc. might just help you dodge a bullet.

Jim Coyle

About Jim Coyle

Jim is a tobacco reduction coordinator with the men’s health program, and has a background in psychiatry and care of the elderly. In former times, Jim was director of care at Simon Fraser Lodge and clinical coordinator at the Brain Injury Group. He came to Canada from Glasgow, Scotland 20 years ago and, when not at work, Jim plays in the band Out of Alba and spends time with his family.