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March is colorectal cancer awareness month – get checked!
This March, people are reminded that colorectal cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Manitoba. In a year, over 900 men and women will be diagnosed and over 300 people will die from it. Colorectal cancer screening is for people who have no symptoms of colon cancer. If you live north of Winnipeg between Lake Manitoba and the Ontario border, this area has a slightly higher rate of colon cancer than the Manitoba average. According to the Interlake-Eastern RHA 2014 Community Health Assessment the rate of colorectal diagnoses per 100,000 people is 74.8 in this area compared to the Manitoba average rate of 68.3. This area also has lower rates of participation in colorectal cancer screening compared to the Manitoba average. Only 24 per cent of eligible men and women in this area participate in colorectal cancer screening compared to the Manitoba average of 32 per cent. 

Get Checked! If you’re between the ages of 50 and 74, CancerCare Manitoba recommends testing via an at home screening test every two years. For more information on how to get a home screening test, please visit
Screening can help prevent colon cancer by early finding and treatment of polyps before they develop into cancer.

 “We know that if caught early enough through screening, pre-cancerous changes in the colon can be removed so that patients can avoid surgery to remove cancer later on,” says Dr. Myron Thiessen, vice president of medical services and chief medical officer for Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority.

Some people may be at increased risk and need colon cancer screening before age 50 or need a different test called a colonoscopy. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, talk to your primary health care provider about it. They may recommend earlier screening.

 “We are fortunate enough to have some excellent endoscopists that offer colonoscopy right here in Selkirk and Beausejour,” says Dr. Thiessen, “In addition, the Selkirk general surgeons offer many colorectal surgical services locally as well.”
If your provider is sending you for a colonoscopy, you can ask to be referred to an endoscopist in Selkirk or Beausejour. Some patients may still need to be referred to cancer care specialists in Winnipeg for certain procedures.

Colorectal cancer occurs when cancer is found in the colon or rectum. The colon and rectum are parts of the large intestine and the digestive system. The colon absorbs water and nutrients and passes waste (stool or feces) to the rectum. Colon and rectal cancers are grouped together as colorectal cancer because these organs are made of the same tissues and there isn’t a clear border between them.

According to, it’s important to make healthy lifestyle choices to prevent colon cancer. Starting with eating well:
Eat 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day.
Eat 6 ounces of whole grains daily. This has been linked to a 21% decreased risk of colon cancer.
Drink alcohol in moderation (no more than 2 drinks/day for men and no more than 1 drink/day for women).
Limit the amount of red meat and processed meats that you eat.

It also states the importance of being physically active for 30 minutes or more per day, maintaining a healthy weight and avoid smoking or using tobacco.

A CancerCare colorectal cancer information and support session is taking place March 13, 2019 at 6:30 pm via telehealth. A site may be available to view the session closer to home. For more information call 1-888-660-4866.

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