Over 50? Time to have a chat about your colon

New campaign will help Canadians find the right words to have a "colonversation"

Colonversation logoTORONTO “ Finding the right words may not seem easy, but a simple conversation about getting checked for colon cancer can save a life. A recent poll by Leger Marketing reports nearly half of Canadians 50 to 74 are not comfortable suggesting loved ones get checked for colon cancer because they are afraid of embarrassing them. They should not be too concerned: the poll also showed that Canadians would rather talk about getting checked for colon cancer than about relationship problems, weight loss or money.

“While colon cancer is highly treatable if caught early, it is still currently the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Canada. We can help change that by encouraging our friends and family over age 50 to speak to their doctors about getting screened for colon cancer,” says the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, federal Minister of Health.

To help Canadians have this life-saving conversation, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network is launching the “Colonversation” Campaign. The first of its kind, the Colonversation Campaign includes an important new national online resource – colonversation.ca – that is devoted entirely to colon cancer screening. Visitors can learn why, where and how to get screened; make use of educational videos; and share the news through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

“It’s normal to routinely visit the dentist and have cholesterol or blood pressure tests. In the same way, people 50 and older should get checked for colon cancer at least every two years as part of their regular health routine,” says Dr. Heather Bryant, Vice-President, Cancer Control, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. “We want Canadians to have ‘colonversations’ and we encourage those over 50 to ask their doctors for a simple screening test that they can do at home.”

How to start a “colonversation”

If you are concerned with embarrassing a loved one with a colonversation, do not worry. According to the Leger Marketing poll, they are easier than you think:

  • For those struggling with where to have the conversation, you might try starting it at home. Sixty per cent of Canadians polled said they preferred to have such conversations at home where they could talk without distractions. The next most popular option was going out for a meal or coffee (18%).
  • Thirty-five per cent of the Canadians polled said they would prefer to use the “The Doctor Said So Approach” to start a “colonversation,” initiating the conversation with something like: “Since I’m over 50, my doctor insisted I do a colon cancer screening test”. Have you done one?
  • Overall, 39% of people would prefer to discuss health topics with their spouses or partners. The next most popular choice was their doctor or a friend (each at 36%).
  • Seventy-one per cent of men feel most comfortable discussing health topics with their spouses or partners.
  • Forty-five per cent of women feel most comfortable discussing health topics with a friend.

“Who said that talking about the health of your colon is awkward?” asks Stuart Knight, author of You Should Have Asked – The Art of Powerful Conversation. “Unfounded fears have hindered us from having ‘colonversations’ with loved ones even though they can change the course of our lives, and even enrich relationships. We want people to talk colon health with one another. It could save a life.”

Each province and territory has its own program to support individuals who want to learn more about getting checked for colon cancer or who would like to get checked. For more information, go to www.colonversation.ca or contact:

“Colonversation is the result of organizations from across Canada working together through the Partnership’s National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network. Together we are finding new ways to drive home the message that Canadians over 50 need to get screened for colon cancer. We are proud to support this important initiative,” says Jessica Hill, Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.

About colonversation.ca

Colonversation.ca is a national resource for all Canadians to learn more about the importance of colon cancer screening. The Colonversation campaign is an initiative of the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network.

About the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer is an independent organization funded by the federal government to accelerate action on cancer control for all Canadians. Bringing together cancer experts, government representatives, the Canadian Cancer Society and cancer patients, survivors and their families through the Canadian Cancer Action Network to implement the first pan-Canadian cancer-control strategy, the vision is to be a driving force to achieve a focused approach that will help prevent cancer, enhance the quality of life of those affected by cancer, lessen the likelihood of dying from cancer, and increase the efficiency of cancer control in Canada.

For more information about the Partnership, please visit www.partnershipagainstcancer.ca.

About the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network

Established by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer in 2007, the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network is building momentum towards a shared approach to colon cancer screening across the country. Programs are shared to support improved quality and consistency as each province and territory develops its own screening program, evaluation methods, quality initiatives and outreach.

At present, membership includes program staff, provincial and territorial government representatives and representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society, Public Health Agency of Canada, Canadian Cancer Action Network, Canadian Medical Association, Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and Canadian Association of Gastroenterology.

The Leger Marketing poll methodology

The poll was conducted from February 5 to 11, 2010 by Leger Marketing. The survey was completed online with 1,123 Canadian adults aged 50 and over. The margin of error which measures sampling variability is +/- 2.9%. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current education, age, gender and region census data to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population aged 50 and older in Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

Contact information

Genevieve Brown
Canadian Partnership Against Cancer

Katie Lofquist
Hill & Knowlton Canada
(416) 413-2625