Prevention

Click here to learn why hockey legend Darryl Sittler is committed to raising awareness about colon cancer and the importance of regular screening.

Colon cancer is more than 90% preventable with regular screening. Currently the best screening test is colonoscopy. Regular colonoscopies are recommended for everyone beginning at age 50 and at age 40 for those with a family history of polyps or colon cancer.

Screening options include colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy, fecal occult blood test, virtual colonoscopy, capsule endoscopy (not covered by OHIP), and in some cases air contrast barium enema.

For those patients who are asymptomatic with no family history of colon carcinoma or polyps, a follow up colonoscopy should be performed every 5 to 10 years.

For patients with increased risk of colon cancer more frequent screening is recommended. Those with increased risk include:

  • Adenomatous polyps (growths inside the colon and rectum that may become cancerous
  • A diet that is high in fat, low in fiber
  • Family or personal history of colon cancer
  • Ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease or other inflammatory bowel diseases
  • Familial adenomatous polyposis
  • Hereditary non-polypoid colon carcinoma
  • Growth hormone disorder: Acromegaly
  • Radiation therapy for cancer

Lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce the risk of colon cancer include:

  • Including adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D in your diet
  • Staying active and maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Limiting saturated fats in your diet
  • Adding a regular colonoscopy, as prescribed by your physician, to your health care practices