By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
With the Canadian Cancer Society estimating two in five people can expect to develop cancer in their lifetimes, the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit stresses the importance of regular screening – which greatly boosts the odds of survival.
Their press release reminds local residents about Ontario’s free screening programs for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers that Public Health Nurse Karen Taylor said can make a life-or-death difference.
“Early stages of cancer can be difficult to see or feel,” Taylor said.
“Regular cancer screening can detect potential problems at a critical point, allowing for early treatment and interventions.”
Studies show regular screening greatly improves the survival rates for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario women, an early detection means the vast majority of women can make a full recovery after treatment. The Ontario Breast Cancer Screening Program recommends women aged 50 to 74 get screened every two years, though a woman’s age and family medical history can help determine more specifically when screening should occur.
Cancer Care Ontario recommends women aged 21 and older who are (or have been) sexually active should get Pap tests every three years to screen for cervical cancer. Women aged 70 and older can stop having Pap tests if they have had three or more normal test results in the previous 10 years. With the main cause of cervical cancer being the human papillomavirus (HPV), vaccination against HPV is strongly recommended and available for all Grade 7 students in the province.
Although colorectal cancer is the second-most common cause of cancer death in Ontario, nine out of 10 people with the disease can be cured if caught early. The Fecal Immunochemical Test is available for people at average risk of getting colorectal cancer (cancer of the colon or rectum).
There are more than 200 types of cancer. Possible causes can include genetics, lifestyle choices, certain types of infection, environmental causes or a combination of these factors.
Taylor encourages people to also check with their health care provider to see when and what type of cancer screening test is best, based on an individual’s age and family history.
For details on Cancer Care Ontario programs, screening tools and clinic locations can be found at www.cancercareontario.ca.