Colon cancer, also known as colorectal or bowel cancer, is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Manitoba.
Most people between ages 50 and 74 should do a colon cancer screening test every 2 years.
The colon is part of the body’s digestive system. It moves waste from the small intestine to the rectum.
Together the colon and the rectum make up the large intestine (bowel).
The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from your food and then passes the leftover waste to the colon. The colon absorbs water from the waste. What is left is called stool (feces or poop). When you have a bowel movement, the stool leaves the rectum through the anus.
Colon cancer, also known as colorectal or bowel cancer, is a disease where the cells of the colon grow out of control. It often starts from small growths (polyps) in the colon or rectum.
Polyps in the colon are common. You can have polyps for many years and not have any signs or symptoms. Most polyps do not turn into cancer. However, some polyps can grow and turn into cancer if they are not removed.
Most people are at average risk of colon cancer and should do a colon cancer screening test every 2 years. In Manitoba, the average risk colon cancer screening test is a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT.
Some people are at increased risk for colon cancer and may need to screened using a different test such called a colonoscopy. Factors you cannot change that can increase your risk for colon cancer include:
Speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about whether FIT is the right test for you.
*Commercial tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, at least 250 of which are known to be harmful and over 70 can cause abnormal cell growth which can then become cancer. Traditional tobacco is unprocessed, natural tobacco gathered and used by some Indigenous peoples as a part of their cultures. Traditional tobacco is considered a sacred plant with immense healing and spiritual benefits in some Indigenous cultures, where it is used for rituals, ceremonies, and prayers. When commercial tobacco is used instead of traditional tobacco, it can be harmful.
Colon cancer screening is an important part of your healthcare routine. Most people age 50 to 74 should complete a FIT every two years.
FIT is a simple cancer screening test that you do in the privacy of your own bathroom. It is a safe and easy test that looks for hidden blood in poop. Blood may be a sign of polyps or cancer.
When doing the test, there are no dietary (food) or medication restrictions, so the test can be done at any time.
To complete the test, one sample of your poop is collected using a small swab and returned to the lab for analysis. After completing the test, it should be returned as soon as possible to ensure that the analysis is accurate.
Write the date you collected your sample on both places on the Return Form.
Peel the label from the Return Form and firmly place on the collection device.
Include in the return envelope the:
It important to weigh the potential benefits and potential harms to make an informed decision before participating in colon cancer screening.
You can expect one of three test results with a FIT kit:
ColonCheck will send your FIT result by mail to you and your healthcare provider. If you are still eligible, ColonCheck will automatically send you another test in 2 years when you are due to complete your next test.
An abnormal result does not necessarily mean you have cancer. There are many possible reasons for blood in your stool. More testing will need to be done to see where the blood is coming from.
ColonCheck will contact you by phone to:
- tell you your result, and
- talk with you about the next test: a colonoscopy.
ColonCheck will send you and your healthcare provider a copy of your FIT result. Before you have your colonoscopy you will meet with the ColonCheck Nurse Practitioner in-person, virtually, or by phone to assess your ability to manage a colonoscopy and how to prep for the colonoscopy.
The lab was not able to provide a result for the sample your mailed. There are many reasons for this. In all cases, ColonCheck will send you another FIT kit to complete.
A colonoscopy is the recommended follow up for abnormal FIT test result.
Repeating a colon cancer screening test after a positive result is not recommended. An abnormal positive result needs further investigation, regardless of the reason.
A colonoscopy allows the doctor to examine the inside of your colon (bowel) and rectum. A long flexible tube (colonoscope) with a small camera is passed into your rectum and colon. On a video monitor, the doctor looks for abnormal areas on the lining of your colon. There can be risks with this procedure. Rarely, some people may have bleeding or other complications such as a perforation (tear) in the colon that may require a hospital stay.
I have a personal history of colon or abdominal/digestive cancer. Can I still do a FIT?
I have no family or personal history risk factors that would put me at an increased risk for colon or rectal cancer. I would prefer to have a colonoscopy instead of doing a FIT. Can I request a colonoscopy from my healthcare provider?
The FIT is:
Colonoscopy is used as a diagnostic tool for people who have:
I was sent an FOBT, but I would prefer to do a FIT. Can I request a FIT instead?
I need a replacement test. Can I request another one?
Can I give this test to someone else living in Manitoba if I do not want to complete it (spouse, family, etc.)?
Can I get a FIT kit from my healthcare provider (doctor, nurse practitioner)?
What if I don’t have a healthcare provider?
I am not a Manitoba resident. Can I still request a FIT from ColonCheck?
Is this test mandatory?
Are there any dietary (food) or medication restrictions when doing the FIT?
Does a FIT expire?
I am concerned about a persistent change in my bowel habits. Is FIT the right test for me?
Can I do this test during my menstrual cycle?
I am leaving the province in 3 months. Should I still complete this test?
Can I drop off my test or do I have to mail it back?
I have diarrhea (loose and watery stools). Can I collect a stool sample?
I do not have a family doctor. Can I still complete this test?
I am worried that the single sample FIT is not as accurate as the six sample FOBT.
I forgot to include my Return Form with my completed test. Will I have to redo the test?
How do I store my sample if I cannot drop it off right away?
Can I contact the lab for my results?
Symptoms of colon cancer may include:
If you have any of the symptoms listed above, it does not necessarily mean you have colorectal cancer. It is important that you speak to your healthcare provider.