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Press release Published on 6.5.2022, 09:29

HUS invites certain age groups to free colorectal cancer screening

Keywords:
  • HUS Diagnostic Center

HUS will be inviting 60-to 68-year-old inhabitants in Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso and South Karelia for colorectal cancer screening. Screening is a free-of-charge service offered by the home municipality of the screening invitee.

Osastonlääkäri Tuomas Mäntylä.

Tuomas Mäntylä says that the purpose of screening is to enable early detection of the cancer. Photo: Samppa Fjäder

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer among Finns with 3,500 new cases yearly. The symptoms of colorectal cancer can be difficult to recognize or even completely absent in the early stages, giving the cancer time to develop without the patient's knowledge. Possible symptoms of colorectal cancer include various changes in bowel function such as abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea.

“The purpose of screening is to enable early detection of the cancer and thereby improve success of treatment and reduce deaths caused by colorectal cancer,” says Tuomas Mäntylä, senior ward physician in Clinical Chemistry at HUS Diagnostic Center.

Colorectal cancer is the collective term for colon and rectal cancers. Cancer occurs when cells in the intestinal wall become malignant and begin dividing in an uncontrolled way. Screening can detect a potentially cancerous tumor already in its early, asymptomatic stages and the tumor can be treated effectively. Screening can also reveal precancerous conditions. 

The screening test looks for hidden blood in the stool sample

During 2022, HUS will send invitations for free colorectal cancer screening to 60-, 62-, 64-, 66- and 68-year-old inhabitants in Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso and South Karelia whose municipality of residence has an agreement with HUS Diagnostic Center regarding colorectal cancer screening service. 

A cancerous tumor may bleed a little in the early stages. However, the amount of blood is too small to be seen with the naked eye. 

“The screening test looks for hidden blood in the stool sample. The screening test we use is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is also used elsewhere in Europe,” says Mäntylä and adds that the screening service has required extensive development and coordination of different activities. “When blood is detected in stool sample, it is not always necessarily a symptom of cancer but further examinations are still needed to determine the cause,” Mäntylä points out. 

The screening invitation sent by mail includes sampling instructions, a sampling kit and a return envelope with postage prepaid. The sample can be taken whenever and no preparation such as fasting or stopping medication is required. Furthermore, no medical condition prevents a person from participating the screening.

The sample is returned to HUS screening center for analysis in a return envelope either by delivering it to a return box in a HUS laboratory or by mailing it. Screening results will be sent to the participant's home address by mail. If blood is detected in the sample, the participant is directed to further examinations by the screening nurse in his/her home municipality. If the result is normal, screening will continue to take place every two years. 

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