Colon Cancer Check
In January, 2007, the Ontario government in collaboration with Cancer Care Ontario announced the launch of a new province-wide colorectal cancer screening program. The five-year, $193.5-million initiative is the first of its kind in Canada and provides regular colorectal cancer screening to all asymptomatic Ontarians 50 years and older.
The program goals are to reduce mortality from colorectal cancer through an organized screening program and to improve the capacity for primary care to participate in comprehensive colorectal cancer screening. ColonCancerCheck will do this by expanding access to screening, supporting physicians and other health care professionals to screen patients, and educating the public about colorectal cancer screening. The screening method will be determined by risk profile.
“The program is funding the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) for all average risk men and women 50 years and older and additional colonoscopies for those at increased risk because they have one or more family members with colorectal cancer, and for people who have a positive FOBT,” says George Smitherman, Ontario’s Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “Thousands of people in Ontario are lost to colorectal cancer every year yet with early detection there is a 90 per cent chance of being cured of this disease.”
Terry Sullivan, President & CEO of Cancer Care Ontario, says that screening is the best weapon we have in the fight against colorectal cancer. “The name of the game here is early detection. It’s critical that health care professionals talk to patients and remind them about the tests and the ColonCancerCheck program will support them to offer screening and follow-up. Research shows that a personal recommendation from a family physician dramatically increases participation in cancer screening.”
The pharmacist’s role
Beginning in April 2008, community pharmacists have played an important role in supporting ColonCancerCheck by distributing take home Fecal Occult Blood Test kits to average risk participants aged 50 years and over who do not have a primary care provider.
OPA continues to work with both the Ministry of Health and Cancer Care Ontario to ensure pharmacists are provided with the information and tools necessary for successful program implementation.
For more information, please refer to the ColonCancerCheck website at www.coloncancercheck.ca, or the Ministry of Health's INFOline at 1-866-410-5853.