As part of the Métis Nation of Ontario’s (MNO) Healing and Wellness initiatives, MNO frontline staff work with the Ontario Health’s Indigenous Cancer Care Unit (ICCU) to improve cancer care with, and for, Métis people in Ontario. This unit works to reduce inequities in care and access to cancer services to ultimately improve cancer outcomes. It does this by building regional capacity through Indigenous Navigators, Regional Indigenous Cancer Leads, and Project Coordinators and by developing Regional Indigenous Cancer Plans across the Regional Cancer Programs.
Building on the success of earlier Indigenous Cancer Strategies (II and III), the First Nations, Inuit, Métis and Urban Indigenous Cancer Strategy (2019-2024) highlights 7 strategic priorities that Ontario Health continues to implement to address the inequities, variations, and disparities experienced by First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous peoples in Ontario’s cancer system. This is done through collaborative partnerships and greater integration of care services. To aid in this goal, the MNO has undertaken multiple cancer research projects, including the Cancer Patient Journey Project and the Cancer Screening Research Study, which were completed collaboratively with the ICCU.
REPORT: Increasing Cancer Screening in the Métis Nation of Ontario (2022) — The MNO led a program of targeted, participatory research to better understand the burden of cancer and cancer risk factors among the Métis people in Ontario. Prior work suggests that cancer risk factors are more prevalent, and the incidence of some cancers are higher among the Métis than non-Indigenous people in Ontario. Some of this is detailed in the 2015 report (see below).
Building on this work, the MNO, Ontario Health (formerly Cancer Care Ontario) and Sunnybrook Research Institute partnered on a community-based study that aimed to examine factors that impact cancer screening among Métis in Ontario. A final report has been produced titled: Increasing Cancer Screening in the Métis Nation of Ontario (MNO). The report found that key factors that impede participation in cancer screening among Métis included: limited Métis-specific resources and supports; widespread lack of cultural competency among healthcare providers; limited access to screening services; and challenges with long-distance travel to access services. An infographic summarizes key findings from the report.
REPORT: Cancer in the Métis People of Ontario: Risk Factors and Screening Behaviours (2015) Jointly developed by Cancer Care Ontario and the Métis Nation of Ontario this report showed that within the Métis population in Ontario, cancer risk factors are significantly higher when compared with the non-Indigenous provincial population. The report, Cancer in the Métis People of Ontario: Risk Factors and Screening Behaviours, identifies key factors that impact cancer rates in the Métis population and provides recommendations for cancer prevention and risk reduction.
Cancer Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Cancer screening is a way to stay healthy. It is testing done on people with no symptoms who generally feel fine but may be at risk of getting cancer. Getting screened regularly is important because it can find some cancers or pre-cancers early, when treatment has a better chance of working.
Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) oversees 4 organized cancer screening programs in Ontario: breast, cervical, colorectal and lung. You can find up-to-date information about the screening programs and guidelines on the Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) website.
Breast, cervical, colorectal and lung cancer screening tests are free for eligible people in Ontario with an up-to-date Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) card. Some financial supports for travel required to get to a screening appointment are available, for example, the Northern Health Travel Grant and MNO travel supports.
You might get a letter in the mail inviting you to participate in breast, cervical or colorectal cancer screening. The letters are part of Ontario’s organized cancer screening programs. They are to remind you about when you are eligible for screening. Sometimes screening test results and next steps are shared via a letter too. You can find more information about the letters on the Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) website.
Breast Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
No, but if it is found early, it may be less likely to have spread to other parts of the body. Treatment may also have a better chance of working when breast cancer if found early.
Some risk factors can be changed. Here are steps that can be taken to lower the chance of getting breast cancer:
- limit alcohol – any amount of alcohol can increase the chance of getting breast cancer;
- quit smoking;
- be physically active as part of everyday life;
- have a healthy body weight; and
- talk with a family doctor or nurse practitioner about limiting time on oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy
Some risk factors cannot be changed, such as age, gene changes, and reproductive history (menstruation, menopause, pregnancy and breastfeeding).
An X-ray image of the breast that is used to screen people for breast cancer.
Yes. Most women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease.
Breast cancer usually develops later in life. Most breast cancers are found in people age 50 and over.
If you are 50 to 74 years old, you can contact your doctor or nurse practitioner or your closest Ontario Breast Screening Program site to make an appointment (see Ontario Breast Screening Program locations or call 1-800-668-9304).
If you are under 50 years old, talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about your breast health and screening options.
Yes. Most changes are not cancer, but they should be checked right away. Contact your doctor or nurse practitioner if you notice:
- a new lump or dimpling on the breast;
- new changes in the nipple or fluid coming from the nipple;
- new redness or skin changes that do not go away; or
- any other new changes in the breasts
Everyone should be breast aware. This means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel, so that you are more likely to notice any unusual changes.
Yes, but it is rare. Less than 1% of all breast cancers happen in men.
Less than 1 out of 100 women are at high risk for breast cancer.
If you are between 30 and 69 years old, you may be eligible to participate in a High Risk Ontario Breast Screening Program. Talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner for a referral for screening based on your personal and family history.
Lung Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you smoke, the best way you can lower your chance of getting lung cancer is to quit smoking.
You can talk to your primary care provider or contact the following services directly for help quitting smoking:
- Health811: Call 8-1-1 (TTY: 1-866-797-0007)
Call a Care Coach for free advice, they can help you create a plan for quitting smoking
- Smokers’ Helpline: SmokersHelpline.ca
Access self-help materials and join an online group of quitters and Quit Coaches
- Talk Tobacco: SmokersHelpline.ca/talktobacco
A free confidential program offering culturally appropriate support and information about quitting smoking, vaping and commercial tobacco use to First Nations, Inuit, Métis and urban Indigenous communities
A special type of CT scan that uses a small amount of radiation.
During a low-dose CT scan, a person lies on an open table that passes through a large donut-shaped machine called a “scanner.” The scanner uses a small amount of radiation to take detailed pictures of the lungs. The test only takes a few minutes and is not painful. There are no medications or needles given during the test.
You may qualify for lung cancer screening in the OLSP if you are 55 to 74 years old and have smoked cigarettes every day for at least 20 years (it does not have to be 20 years in a row, which means there could be times when you did not smoke).
Contact your doctor or nurse practitioner or an OLSP site hospital to find out if you qualify to get checked for lung cancer screening. Call 1.866.662.9233 or visit cancercareontario.ca/lungscreeninglocations to get the names of the OLSP site hospitals you can contact.
We know from scientific studies that screening can lower the chance of dying from lung cancer in people who are ages 55 to 74 and at high risk of getting lung cancer from smoking a lot of cigarettes for many years. People who have used other kinds of commercial tobacco, such as cigars, pipe tobacco, chewing tobacco or e-cigarettes do not qualify for screening unless they have also smoked a lot of cigarettes. People who have used ceremonial tobacco are not eligible for screening unless they have also smoked a lot of cigarettes. People who have not smoked a lot of cigarettes but who have breathed in second-hand smoke, asbestos and other air pollutants also do not qualify to get screened. Lung cancer screening has potential harms, which is why people who are not at high risk of getting lung cancer should not get screened.
Some examples of possible symptoms of lung cancer are:
- A new cough that doesn’t go away or gets worse
- Chest pain that is often worse when you breathe deeply, cough or laugh
- A hoarse (scratchy-sounding) voice
- Not hungry and/or lose weight for no reason
- Cough up blood, or rust-coloured spit or phlegm
- Shortness of breath (you get out of breath easily and have trouble catching your breath)
- Infections, such as bronchitis and pneumonia, that do not go away or keep coming back
- Wheezing (a whistling or rattling sound when you breathe)
- Abnormal blood tests
If you have any of these symptoms, you do not necessarily have lung cancer. However, screening may not be right for you and it is important to speak to a health care provider (for example, your doctor or nurse practitioner) about your symptoms, especially if they are new or getting worse. A health care provider should be able to talk to you about any symptoms you are having and give you next steps.
Cervical Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV).
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a common family of viruses found in both males and females. Some HPV viruses cause genital warts and other HPV viruses can cause cancer of the cervix.
HPV is passed from one person to another through intimate sexual contact (anytime another person has contact with your genitals with their hands, mouth or genitals).
A Pap test is a screening test that looks for abnormal cells on the cervix. These cells could develop into a cancer if not found and treated.
You can reduce your chances of developing cervical cancer by getting the HPV vaccine, having regular Pap tests performed, and having follow up testing if abnormal results are found.
Colorectal Screening Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
There are many reasons someone may develop colon cancer—some reasons are better understood than others.
Someone is at average risk if they are 50 to 74 years old with no first-degree relative (parent, sibling or child) who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Someone is at increased risk if they have a family history of colorectal cancer that includes 1 or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) with the disease.
A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a safe and painless at-home test that looks for tiny amounts of blood in your stool (poop) which can be caused by colorectal pre-cancer or cancer. FIT is the recommended colorectal cancer screening test for people at average risk of colorectal cancer.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test that allows a doctor to look inside the rectum and sigmoid colon (lower part of the colon) with a small, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is an alternative colorectal cancer screening test for people at average risk of colorectal cancer.
A colonoscopy is a test that allows a doctor to look at the entire colon using a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end. Colonoscopy is a test used to screen people who are at increased risk of getting colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy is not recommended to screen people who are at average risk of getting colorectal cancer. However, it is very important that people with an abnormal fecal immunochemical test (FIT result) have a colonoscopy within 8 weeks.
Some things you can do to prevent colorectal cancer include:
- limit alcohol
- limit red meat and try not to eat processed meat (e.g., bologna, salami);
- have a healthy body weight;
- be physically active as part of everyday life;
- eat a diet high in fibre (including vegetables, fruit and whole grain alternatives);
- consume milk, milk products, calcium-fortified alternatives or calcium;
- quit smoking and stop using tobacco products (e.g., cigarettes, chewing tobacco); and
- get screened with the fecal immunochemical test