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Colon Cancer Prevention Program Launched

April brought more than showers to Nova Scotia. For many individuals, it also brought some potentially life-saving packages in the mail, a central component in Cancer Care Nova Scotia’s screening program for colon cancer.
The Colon Cancer Prevention Program, as it is  officially called, is being phased in across the province over the next two years beginning first in three district health authorities: South Shore Health, Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, and Cape Breton District Health Authority.

Nova Scotians aged 50-74 in the three district health authorities have begun receiving information on the program, encouraging them to participate. About two weeks later, they will receive the screening kit, called a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT.

“The test can detect even very small amounts of blood in the stool and alert us to the possibility of a hidden cancer,” says Dr. Bernard Badley, Medical Director of CCNS’s Colon Cancer Prevention Program.

“The advantage of the FIT is that it is done in the comfort and privacy of your own home, and it’s easy to use,” he notes. “There are clear instructions on the kit that ask the participant to place a small stool sample on a test card and return it to the lab in the special, postage-paid envelope provided.”

Not everyone in the pilot communities will receive their kit at the same time because the program is being phased in. Those born in an odd year will receive their kit shortly after their birthday in odd years. Those born in an even year will receive their kit shortly after their birthday in even years. Because screening needs to be done regularly to be effective, people will be invited to be screened every two years until they reach the age of 74.

If a test that shows blood in the stool, the individual will be contacted to arrange a follow-up test called a colonoscopy to determine the origin of the blood.

“Screening is essential,” says Dr. Badley, “because there are often no warning signs of colon cancer in the early stages, when it is most treatable. Most people who get the disease have no family history of it. In fact, the greatest risk factor for colon cancer is being over the age of 50.”

If you have any questions about the screening program, please visit our website at or call us toll-free at 1-866-599-2267. If you have any concerns about colon cancer, or if you have any symptoms, please see your family doctor about the  appropriate next steps.


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