Left undetected, colon cancer can be deadly. In fact, colon cancer is third leading cause of death from cancer in Canada. However, nine out of 10 people who are diagnosed with early-stage colon cancer and receive treatment, can be cured.
And that is an important, life-saving detail.
Scarborough Health Network’s (SHN) popular VaxFacts Clinic first launched in April 2021 to provide a confidential, judgment-free space to make an informed decision about the COVID-19 vaccination, and as recently as August, expanded its offerings to answer questions about monkeypox and other infectious diseases. Today, it is piloting a second expansion, connecting eligible patients to cancer screening services if they do not have their own family doctor or nurse practitioner.
Currently, Ontario offers four cancer screening programs, and VaxFacts+ will support patient access for three of them: colon, cervical and breast cancers. Family physician and lead of the VaxFacts Clinic, Dr. Latif Murji, is spearheading the expansion in collaboration with Dr. Avnish Mehta who works for both SHN and Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities. Drs. Murji and Mehta are encouraging patients across Toronto and beyond to get screened for cancer. It just might save a life.
“Regular cancer screening, when you feel well and before symptoms arise, is the best way to detect cancer early on, when it is easier to cure,” Dr. Murji emphasized.
Through virtual appointments available at SHN’s VaxFacts website, patients speak with a doctor, learn about which cancer screening is right for them, and are connected to appropriate services.
“We’re taking a community-first approach. Our Scarborough community ambassadors are at malls, places of worship, residential complexes, having conversations about cancer screening and booking appointments for community members who do not have a primary care provider on the spot.”
Today, more than 2.2 million Ontarians are without a doctor. Through this VaxFacts+ expansion, SHN and Dr. Murji are continuing their shared commitment toremovebarriers, eliminate health disparities and ensure people across the city are receiving the care they need.
“We want to ensure the most vulnerable groups have good access to quality healthcare, and that includes cancer screening,” he said.
“We know Scarborough has more newcomers, sometimes with language barriers and often with lower incomes. We know these factors are associated with decreased access to a family doctor and thus lower rates of cancer screening. We are here to bridge that gap, and help our community stay healthy,” he added.
For Dr. Murji, he’s ensured VaxFacts+ telephone consultations are offered in more than 200 languages. And Dr. Murji’s team of doctors includes family physicians, pediatricians, obstetricians and other qualified specialists.
“We are privileged to serve in Scarborough, and we’re here to provide people with the help they need, when they need it.”
About SHN’s VaxFacts and VaxFacts+
For individuals and families looking into cancer screening, or who have questions about the vaccines, monkeypox and other infectious diseases, SHN is encouraging community members to access the free VaxFacts+ Clinic.
The first of its kind in Canada, the VaxFacts Clinic is an opportunity to speak one-to-one with a physician in a judgement-free phone conversation, and have their questions answered.
Since its launch, thousands of patients across Canada have accessed the VaxFacts+ with questions around vaccine hesitancy, medical experiences, other health concerns. The VaxFacts+ Clinic is free to use and only takes seconds to book an appointment at shn.ca/vaxfacts.
SHN is a proud member of the Scarborough Ontario Health Team.