27 Canadians die every day from cancer, which still leaves many people uncomfortable. Colorectal cancer may be the second deadliest cancer in Quebec, but a majority of Quebecers are still hesitant to take this mundane test to determine the presence of occult blood.
Everything about the digestive system, how it works, what comes out of it has always been a little taboo. But you have to talk about real business. Must know that it is a cancer that exists, that it is an organ no dirtier than another and must have the courage to go for a test even if it involves handling stool, insists Dr. Mélanie Bélanger, president of the Association of gastroenterologists of Quebec
Dr Claude Rivard was saved thanks to the FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) test, which also avoids unnecessary colonoscopies.
When you have been on the other side of the desk, you realize that it is no longer the same thing. There are a lot of people who started to do FIT tests on a regular basis and who before, did not do them or did not insist on their patients, but we realize that it is important, says Dr. Claude Rivard, who had colon cancer in 2016.
Several doctors would like to make this screening test automatic, even mandatory, but the infrastructure is still lacking. The test cannot be offered over the counter since follow-up must be done by a doctor, says Dr. Rivard.
A negative test is good news, but it should ideally be repeated every two years, since cancer can appear quite quickly. This is the case of Bernard Lachance, who has passed several tests to check for occult blood in his stool before one of them leads to sound the alarm.
This [nouveau] test is much more accurate than the other was before. Did it start slowly and the other test didn’t detect it? Possible…, he explains.
Don’t wait too long
Paule Laflamme is very lucky to be still alive despite a late detection. Her doctor did not deem the test necessary in her early fifties. Two years later, the cancer had spread to several places. The success of his surgery is a miracle.
Today has been five and a half years. I am here to pass a message of hope to people. It’s quite simple, a little two minutes. It is certain that it would not have spread to other vital organs and to be announced that we are going to die, she says with emotion.
The singer Patrick Bourgois, from the group Les BB, died of this cancer a few years ago. Her son Ludovick wants families to discuss the test.
“It makes young people want to tell their parents about it because they don’t want the same story to happen again. The same story as mine, “said the young singer who is now spokesperson for the screening campaign which takes place throughout March.
For colon cancers detected in the early stages of the disease, the five-year survival rate is 90%.