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Colon screening

Colon screening services offered

  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) - recommended every two years for people who do not have a personal history of adenomas or a significant family history of colon cancer.
  • Colonoscopy - recommended every five years for people with at least one of the following:
    • One first degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, daughter or son) with colon cancer diagnosed under the age of 60
    • Two or more first degree relatives with colon cancer diagnosed at any age
    • A personal history of adenomas – a type of non-cancerous tumours

If you have a personal history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, you should continue to obtain care through your specialist and family physician. You should not be screened through the Colon Screening Program.

Who should get screened?

  • If you are a BC man or woman between the ages of 50 to 74, with no symptoms, you should get screened for colon cancer every two years.
  • If you have blood in your stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, or weight loss, talk to your family physician about a referral to see a specialist.

Why you should get screened

Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer and one of the most preventable cancers. If detected at its earliest stage, the chance of survival is over 90 per cent. Screening can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps (small growths that can develop in the colon or rectum) before they turn into cancer. Screening can also find cancers early, when there are more treatment options and better outcomes.

Preparing for your colonoscopy 

This video provides an explanation of why a colonoscopy is recommended, what to expect on the procedure day and a summary of the what happens during the procedure.  It will help you to prepare for your colonoscopy including bowel preparation as well as possible interventions and potential risks.   

Who's eligible for colon screening?

All residents between the ages of 50 to 74 within BC are eligible.

How to access colonoscopy services

If you are between the ages of 50 and 74 you should:

  • Talk to your family physician to determine which screening test is right for you.
  • If you are eligible for screening, your doctor will give you an order form for a free FIT kit or will refer you to a patient coordinator (nurse) for your community for a colonoscopy assessment
  • If you are doing a FIT kit, you can  take the order form to a lab in Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, and pick up your FIT kit.
  • Follow the instructions in the kit to collect samples of your stool in the privacy of your own home, and then drop the sample off at a participating lab.
  • If you are being referred for colonoscopy, a patient coordinator will contact you directly.
  • For more information, visit the Colon Screening Program.

Why you should get tested

Colon cancer is the second deadliest cancer and one of the most preventable cancers.  Removal of non-cancerous polyps reduces your chance of getting colon cancer by more than 90 per cent.

If you get abnormal results

If you have an abnormal FIT result, it does not mean you have cancer.  Your FIT result will be sent to the BC Cancer Agency and a patient coordinator (nurse) for your community will automatically get in touch with you. The nurse will speak with you about your test result and recommend follow-up testing. Usually, a colonoscopy is recommended. For more information, visit the Colon Screening Program.

Is there a cost?

The FIT or colonoscopy procedure is free to insured BC residents with referral from a family physician.

Where is colon screening offered?

There are a number of lab locations in Vancouver Coastal Health and around B.C. where you can pick up the FIT with a requisition from your family physician.

For more information on colon screening

For more information on the BC Colon Cancer Screening Program and the FIT test, go to BC Cancer Agency's ScreeningBC site.


SOURCE: Colon screening ( )
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