October is Cancer Awareness Month in Eeyou Istchee
Cancer screening can help you or a loved one detect cancer early. Screening is recommended for breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer.
Pauline Lameboy of CWEIA (Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association) shares the journey of her late mother in the fight against cancer.
During Cancer Awareness Month, the Chishaayiiyuu Public Health team wants you to know that helpful information and services are available to you.
Cancer screening aims to detect cancer before symptoms appear and is always your personal choice. CBHSSJB recommends screening for three main types of cancer – breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and cervical cancer.
Almost all cervical cancer is caused by infection of the cervix by the human papilloma virus (HPV).
Here are ways that women can protect themselves from cervical cancer:
- Be vaccinated against HPV, which is routinely given to children at school starting in grade 4.
- Go for routine Papanicolaou (Pap) tests, which check for signs of cervical precancer or cervical cancer before any symptoms appear. Early detection and treatment will increase your chance of survival.
If you are a woman between 21 – 65 years old, you’re recommended to have a Pap test every 2 - 3 years. Call the CMC and ask for an appointment with a nurse or doctor. It’s important to call rather than wait for someone from the clinic to call you.
Colon (colorectal) cancer
Colorectal cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in Eeyou Istchee.
There is a screening test for colon cancer, called a fecal immunochemical test (FIT).
The FIT test checks for tiny amounts of blood in your stool, which in some cases can be an early sign of colon cancer. It is performed once every two years. The FIT test is quick, simple, and can be done at home.
A FIT test should be done for everybody 50 - 74 years old every 2 years – unless you have had a colonoscopy in the last 10 years. If you have a family history of colon cancer, find out if and at what age you may need a screening colonoscopy by talking with your doctor.
Breast cancer is also one of the most common types of cancer in Eeyou Istchee.
There is a screening test for breast cancer, called mammography.
A mammogram screening takes X-rays of your breasts to check for cancer before you or your doctor notice anything wrong (such as a lump).
All women 50 – 69 years old are recommended to be screened every 2 years. Screening is offered in Chibougamau/Val-D’Or Hospital, or with the ClaraBus/SophieAir mobile mammogram machine (next visit to Eeyou Istchee in 2023)
If you have a biological family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, we recommend that you visit your doctor to discuss whether you should begin breast cancer screening before age 50, or be screened more than every 2 years.
Other ways to help prevent cancer
Risk factors for cancer include genetics, lifestyle, and luck.
- What is your family history? Do you have any family who had cancer at a relatively young age (younger than 50 years old)?
- Do you smoke? Are you a heavy drinker?
These are important things to consider that can affect your chance of getting cancer.
The healthier your lifestyle, the lower your risk for cancer.
Call your CMC to learn about cancer screening and help decide the best option for you.
Cervical cancer screening checks for signs of cervical precancer or cervical cancer before any symptoms appear.
The FIT test checks for tiny amounts of blood in your stool, which in some cases can be an early sign of colon cancer.
Breast cancer screening (mammography) checks for cancer in your breast before you or your doctor notice anything wrong.
For adults over the age of 30 by offering appropriate services in communities, CMCs and MSDCs.