Growing up, bowel movements were not a taboo topic in my home. With five kids close in age, our dinner conversations unsurprisingly led to the most inappropriate topics. Still, we must have developed filters over time, as I hesitated recently before texting my mom, “Have you and Dad had a poop test lately?”
The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer encourages us to be more open to having “Colon-versations” with our family, friends and health care team.¹ This March, for Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to understand the value of removing those filters.
Why are we catching it so late?
Colorectal cancer can grow for many years before symptoms develop. That means we can’t wait for our bodies to tell us something is wrong. Instead, we need to follow regular screening guidelines.
However, in 2017 only 57 per cent of Albertans aged 50-74 were up to date on their colorectal cancer screening.⁵
A FIT can be picked up at a lab with a doctor’s order. Materials are included for taking a stool swab at home, which is then then returned to the lab.
As a patient, what can you do?
- Follow a healthy lifestyle: including a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, exercise regularly, don’t smoke and limit alcohol.
- Get a family doctor. This is one of the most important health decisions we can make. Only 18 per cent of Edmonton adults without a family doctor had received colorectal cancer screening in the recommended timeframe.⁵
- Talk to your doctor about colorectal cancer screening – especially if you have risk factors, a family history of cancer or are 50-74 and it has been two years since your last FIT.
- Have a Colon-versation with your friends and family! Let’s remove those filters. Let our loved ones know we care by bringing bowel movements back to the dinner table. This week, ask two loved ones aged 50-74, when they last swabbed their stool. Chances are, one is overdue.
By Brittany Faux
Clinical Improvement Facilitator