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WHY GET SCREENED FOR CANCER?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many cancer screening programs to be paused during provincial lockdowns and restrictions. Once screening programs resumed, they did so gradually, and many people were hesitant to go to their doctors due to rising COVID-19 cases and new variants. As a result, many people have missed their routine screening for certain cancers. It is essential that people continue to be regularly screened to ensure timely detection and treatment of cancers.
- The pandemic has reduced cancer screening in Ontario by 41% in 2020, compared to 2019, which will lead to delayed treatment.1 At this time, the number of referrals made to breast and colorectal cancer screening centres have also decreased by 40% in Ontario.
We need to address the lack of screening in our community as lower cancer screening rates in Ontario were consistently associated with larger South Asian populations. Improving screening rates in Peel and in the South Asian community can improve survival and treatment possibilities.
MYTHS VERSUS FACTS
MYTH 1: “I do not need to get screened, none of my family members have ever had cancer.”
Anyone can get cancer, regardless of family history. In fact, most people diagnosed with cancer do not have a family history of cancer.9 Cancer can be caused by a variety of things, and the chances of getting cancer increases with age. As such, everyone who is eligible should get screened for cancer, regardless of family history.
MYTH 2: “I have no symptoms or pain, I do not need to get tested for cancer.”
You do not have to be symptomatic to be able to diagnose cancer. In the early stages of cancer, people are often asymptomatic (do not experience symptoms). Cancer treatments have a higher chance of success and patients have a higher chance of survival when cancer is diagnosed in the earlier stages.
MYTH 3: “Cancer is a fatal disease. If I have cancer, it is not helpful to find out early, it will just add extra stress.”
The chances of successful treatment for common cancers are three times higher if the cancer is caught early, as the stage of cancer is one of the most important predictors of survival.10 Many cancers can be treated with surgery, targeted therapies, radiation, and immunotherapy.
MYTH 4: “I eat lots of fruits and vegetables, I am healthy and I do not need to get checked.”
You can follow all the “rules” of a healthy lifestyle, get regular medical checkups, and even have great genes, and still find yourself with a cancer diagnosis. While having a healthy diet and exercising can reduce your risk of cancer, you can still be diagnosed with cancer. Having cancer does not necessarily mean you have an unhealthy or harmful lifestyle. There is no shame in a cancer diagnosis, as anyone can get it at any stage of their life.
MYTH 5: “If I have cancer, it can spread to someone close to me.”
Cancer is not contagious. Cancer cells cannot be spread from person to person through contact, which includes breathing the same air, sharing food, touching, kissing, or intercourse.8
QUICK GLANCE AT CANCER SCREENING GUIDELINES
*Please click on the tabs below for detailed screening eligibility.
|Breast Cancer||Colorectal Cancer||Cervical Cancer|
|Who?||Women aged 50 to 74.||Women AND men aged 50 to 74.||Women aged 21 to 70.|
|How?||Book your appointment at the closest Ontario Breast Screening Program Locations or call 1-800-668-9304.||Complete the screening test you received in the mail. |
If you did not receive a screening test, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
|Book an appointment with your family doctor.|
No family doctor?
You can register for Health Care Connect at 1-800-445-1822 or visit Health Care ConnectOpens.
No health card?
You can visit the Brampton Naturopathic Teaching Clinic (BNTC), located inside Brampton Civic Hospital, which operates on a fee-for-service model.
TYPES OF CANCER AND SCREENING ELIGIBILITY
Who can get screened?4
- Women (50-74), should be screened every 2 years with mammography. Find your nearest OBSP site by calling 1-800-668-9304 or visiting Ontario Breast Screening Program Locations.
- Women (30-69) who meet the following requirements should talk to their doctor about getting a referral to the High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program:
- You are known to have a gene mutation that increases your risk for breast cancer (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, CDH1).
- You are a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) of someone who has a gene mutation that increases their risk for breast cancer (e.g., BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, PTEN, CDH1).
- You have a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
- You have had radiation therapy to the chest to treat another cancer or condition (e.g., Hodgkin lymphoma) before age 30 and at least 8 years ago.
How can I schedule my breast cancer screening?
- Call 1-800-668-9304 or go to Ontario Breast Screening Program Locations.
Who can get screened?5
- Women (21 to 70) who are or have ever been sexually active can be screened for cervical cancer through a Pap test every three years.
How do I schedule my screening for cervical cancer?
- Make an appointment with your doctor or nurse practitioner.
- If you do not have a doctor or nurse practitioner, you can register online or call Health Care Connect at 1-800-445-1822.
Who can get screened?8
- Men and women (50-74) can get screened with the FIT they receive in the mail.
- Men and women (any age) with a direct family history of colon screening are eligible to get screened with a colonoscopy at an early age. Please contact your family doctor to see if you are eligible and can get a referral for a colonoscopy.
How often can I get screened?
- Do you have a parent, brother, sister, or child who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer?
- Yes: Continue to the next question.
- No: Complete the FIT you receive in the mail every 2 years if you are 50 to 74.
- Were they diagnosed before age 60?
- Yes: You should get screened with a colonoscopy every 5 years at any age.
- No: You should get screened with a colonoscopy every 10 years at any age.
I did not get a FIT in the mail, now what?
- You can talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner about getting a FIT. If you do not have a family doctor or nurse practitioner, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213.
How do I use my FIT?
Are you interested in finding out your risk for different types of cancer? Click here to complete a risk assessment.
Questions about any of the cancer screening guidelines?
- Call ServiceOntario, Infoline at 1-866-532-3161 (TTY 1-800-387-5559); in Toronto, 416-314-5518 (TTY 416-327-4282).
- Talk to an information specialist from the Canadian Cancer Society at 1-888-939-3333 (TTY 1-866-786-3934) or visit their website.