Screening saves lives

Make no mistake about it - screening saves lives. Whether it's the mammogram to screen for breast cancer or the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) for colorectal cancer, tests have the potential to detect abnormalities early - early enough that you can do something about it.

Studies show that regular screening with the FOBT - whereby samples of a person's stool are checked for blood - may reduce the mortality rate from colorectal cancer by anywhere from 15% to 25% in people aged 50 to 74 years.

Implementing a screening program

The success rate of screening has prompted provincial and federal government committees, as well as cancer advocacy groups, to encourage the implementation of an organized, province-wide colorectal screening program. In fact, some provinces such as Ontario already have such a program in place.

The vision of such a program would be that eligible people between the ages of 50 and 74 would go for an FOBT at least once every 2 years. They would be contacted to ensure they get screened and a structured follow-up procedure would be in place.

The program is comprehensive, with a media campaign to inform the public, distribution of FOBT kits sent to those who are eligible, a designated central lab to analyze the FOBT specimens, and much more.

Such a program is notable not only for its potential to save lives, but also for being cost effective.

The various groups contributing to this initiative urge you to contact your provincial government representative to make this a reality if it's not already so where you live. Lives may be depending on it, so why not act now?