In an effort to increase the rates of colorectal cancer screening in the NWT, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is piloting a new initiative distributing the fecal immunochemical tests or “FIT” screening kits directly to eligible residents through the mail.

The FIT is a stool test that looks for microscopic drops of blood, which can be caused by colorectal cancer. The test is accurate, easy, and can be done at home.

Screening is essential for reducing morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer. When colorectal cancer is caught early, 9 out of 10 people can be cured.

The first phase of this pilot project will focus on the Beaufort-Delta region. Currently, only 16% of the eligible population in the Beaufort-Delta region participates in colorectal cancer screening. This is less than the Territorial average of 21.9% and far less than the national goal of 60%.

Mark Prins, MD CCFP, Beaufort-Delta Region, NTHSSA states that the single most important step in the process of finding and treating cancer is not the quality of the doctor or the fancy equipment, it’s the willingness of the individual to come forward and be tested.”

“Every time we find an early stage cancer that can be treated, allowing that person to go on living cancer-free, the whole team at the hospital/community health centre celebrates.

After receiving a screening test in the mail, eligible residents will then receive follow-ups by phone, result letters, and if needed in-person appointments with Community Health Representatives, who have received training on the FIT and colorectal cancer screening.

Men and women aged 50-74, who are considered average-risk, should routinely complete a FIT every one to two years. For any questions regarding colorectal cancer screening or eligibility for the FIT, contact your healthcare provider for more information or check out www.cancernwt.ca.