Colorectal cancer screening in Canada: Environmental scan (2018)

Review this summary of colorectal cancer screening programs’ key components and strategies across Canada in 2018

The Canadian Partnership Against Cancer conducts annual environmental scans on national, provincial and territorial colorectal cancer screening guidelines, strategies and activities. This environmental scan’s information was collected in June and July 2018, and the scan was updated in March 2019.

As of 2018, organized colorectal cancer screening programs are available in nine provinces and one territory. Plans are underway to develop screening programs in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Quebec.

The programs screen individuals who are at an average risk for colorectal cancer, and show no signs or symptoms. Where organized screening programs are not available, a primary care provider (PCP) may provide the screening services.

 Discover more about this scan’s highlights:

  • The first colorectal cancer screening program started in March 2007 in Alberta. Most recently, a colorectal screening program began in December 2016 in the Yukon.
  • All provinces and territories screen asymptomatic individuals at average risk of developing colorectal cancer who are between the ages of 50 and 74 or 75, every 12 to 30 month. Screening uses a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), either the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or guaiac fecal test (FTg).
  • Organized colorectal cancer screening programs use recruitment, reminder and promotional strategies to invite eligible individuals .
  • For individuals at increased risk, most provinces and territories recommend screening every five to 10 years with colonoscopy, starting at age 40 or 10 years earlier than the participant’s youngest relative’s age at diagnosis .
  • Seven provinces and one territory use strategies to connect with First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations. Strategies are also in place to help underserved populations participate.

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