March is Colon Cancer
Awareness Month

Canadian celebrities lending support to campaign

  • Feb. 29, 2012 4:03 p.m.

Colon Cancer Canada, with the support of several famous Canadians, is launching the Colon Cancer Awareness Month with a hard hitting public service announcement (PSA) campaign that promotes the message that people need to ‘talk about it.’

Canadian celebrities involved in the campaign are Olympic medalist Adam van Koeverden, singer Anne Murray, hockey legend Darryl Sittler, actress Emmanuelle Chriqui, actor Neil Crone and colon cancer survivor Pamela Wallin.

“They all have a personal story that brought them to Colon Cancer Canada – we just couldn’t be more proud of them,” explains Amy Elmaleh, co-founder of Colon Cancer Canada.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of both male and female cancer-related deaths in Canada.

In 2011, an estimated 22,000 Canadians were diagnosed with colon cancer. Although this is a startling statistic, more startling is the fact that almost half of those diagnosed died. On average, 61 Canadians will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer every day. And on average, 24 Canadians will die of colorectal cancer every day.

One in 13 men is expected to develop colorectal cancer during his lifetime and one in 28 will die of it. One in 16 women is expected to develop colorectal cancer during her lifetime and one in 32 will die of it.

According to Colon Cancer Canada, colon cancer is one of the most preventable forms of cancer. If caught early, over 90% of these cases could and should result in a full recovery.

Possible symptoms may include a change in bowel habits, blood (either bright red or very dark) in the stool, diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely, stools that are narrower than usual, general abdominal discomfort (frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness or cramps), unexplained weight loss, feeling very tired or vomiting.

Part of the aim of Colon Cancer Awareness Month is about bolstering awareness about prevention.

Colorectal cancer screening means checking for cancer as part of routine medical care when there are no symptoms present. Colorectal cancer responds best to treatment when it is found and treated as early as possible, and treatment is most effective before the disease spreads outside of the colon.

For average risk individuals, the Canadian Cancer Society recommends men and women age 50 and over have a stool test at least every two years. Stool tests help identify polyps before they become cancerous.

Follow-up for a positive test could include a colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema and sigmoidoscopy.

Those who are at higher than average risk of developing colorectal cancer should discuss an individual plan of surveillance with their doctor. High risk individuals include those with a first-degree relative with colorectal cancer (such as a parent, sibling or child), a personal history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease such as ulcerative or Crohn’s disease, or some inherited syndromes such as FAP (familial adenomatous polyposis) or HNPCC (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer), or benign polyps of the colon or rectum.

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