FAQs

What is ColonCancerCheck?

ColonCancerCheck is a province-wide screening program for men and women that’s designed to raise screening rates and reduce deaths from colorectal cancer.

The ColonCancerCheck program has two arms for colorectal cancer screening: Average Risk for the general population, ages 50 to 74, and Increased Risk for Ontario residents with a family history.

Who is at average risk for colorectal cancer?

Ontario men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history are encouraged to take an easy, at-home screening test called the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is also commonly called the ‘Poop Test’ because it involves collecting tiny samples of fecal matter which are tested in a lab for signs of colorectal cancer.

People in this category have no personal history of pre-cancerous colorectal polyps requiring surveillance or inflammatory bowel disease (i.e., Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).

Who is at increased risk of colorectal cancer?

People are considered at increased risk if they have a family history of colorectal cancer that includes one or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. People at increased risk should speak to their healthcare provider about getting a colonoscopy.

What is my risk of developing colorectal cancer?

To learn about your personal risk of developing colorectal cancer you can use an online tool called My CancerIQ.

Should I be screened for colorectal cancer?

Yes. If detected early through screening, colorectal cancer is curable 90% of the time. Men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history should consult their healthcare provider and have a Fecal Occult Blood Test(FOBT) every two years.

Individuals who are at increased risk of getting colorectal cancer may need to begin screening for the disease at a younger age (before the ages of 50) and a colonoscopy may be the more appropriate screening tool. Talk to your healthcare provider about your family history and the screening method that is right for you.

Why is colorectal screening important?

Colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario. It is also the second most common cause of cancer deaths in men after lung cancer and third most common cause of cancer deaths in women after lung and breast cancers.

In 2015, an estimated 9,200 Ontarians (about 5,100 men and 4,100 women) were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 3,350 Ontarians (1,850 men and 1,500 women) died from the disease.

Research shows that almost 70 percent of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no family history of the disease. This is why it is important that all men and women aged 50 to 74 years get screened.

If detected early through screening, colorectal cancer is curable 90% of the time. Men and women ages 50 to 74 should consult their healthcare provider and have a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years.

Individuals who are at increased risk of getting colorectal cancer may need to begin screening for the disease at a younger age (before the ages of 50) and a colonoscopy may be the more appropriate screening tool. Talk to your healthcare provider about your family history and the screening method that is right for you.

When should I be screened for colorectal cancer?

Ontario men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history are encouraged to take an easy, at-home screening test called the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. The FOBT is also commonly called the ‘Poop Test’ because it involves collecting tiny samples of fecal matter which are tested in a lab for signs of colorectal cancer.

People are considered at increased risk if they have a family history of colorectal cancer that includes one or more first-degree relatives (parent, sibling or child) who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Screening should begin at 50 years of age, or 10 years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed — whichever occurs first. People at increased risk should speak to their healthcare provider about a colonoscopy.

The time for screening is when you feel fine. If you are worried about the health of your colon or rectum, please see your healthcare provider. Don’t wait for symptoms.

What is a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)?

The Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is a simple test used for colorectal cancer screening that is completed in the privacy of your own home and requires the collection of three stool samples. The test can detect invisible amounts of blood in the stool and is the most widely available test for screening for colorectal cancer.

It is recommended that men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history be screened every two years using the FOBT.

Studies show when this screening test is performed every two years, combined with a colonoscopy for those who test positive, it will reduce death from colorectal cancer by 16 per cent over a decade.

For more information about the FOBT please click here.

Where can I get a FOBT kit?

Ask your healthcare provider (ie. family doctor, nurse practitioner) for a FOBT kit to screen for signs of colorectal cancer. This easy-to-use test can be done in the privacy of your own home. People without a healthcare provider can get the FOBT kit by contacting Telehealth Ontario at 1.866.828.9213. More information is available at www.ontario.ca/coloncancercheck.

The Screen for Life Mobile Coach also distributes the FOBT kit. Please visit Screen for Life Coach for more information or call 905-975-4467.

How do I complete the FOBT kit?

The FOBT kit comes with easy-to-follow instructions. You can also watch this video for step-by-step instructions.

Do I need to be tested if no one in my family has a history of colorectal cancer?

Yes, it’s still important for men and women ages 50 to 74 to take the FOBT every two years. Most colorectal cancers occur in people without a family history of the disease. Still, as many as 1 in 5 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have been affected by this disease.

What if I have a family history of colorectal cancer?

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer in a first degree relative (parent, sibling or child) or have symptoms, ColonCancerCheck recommends a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer. This procedure is also recommended if your FOBT is positive for signs of colorectal cancer. A colonoscopy is an examination of the lining of your rectum and colon using a long flexible tube with a camera on the end.

If I have no symptoms of colorectal cancer or stomach or bowel problems, do I need to complete the FOBT test?

Yes, because screening can find hidden signs of colorectal cancer. In its early stages, there may be no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. If colorectal cancer is detected at its earliest stage, the chance of survival is over 90%. If you are experiencing symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about a referral for diagnostic testing.

Is the FOBT kit 100% accurate?

Like any screening test, a FOBT is not 100% accurate.

However, it is currently the most well-researched screening test for colorectal cancer.

Because cancers and precancerous growths only bleed intermittently it is possible that the FOBT will miss one. This is why it is important to screen every two years and see your healthcare professional if symptoms develop, regardless of the FOBT result.

Screening finds many non-cancerous polyps and colon cancers, but no screening test is perfect. There is a chance that a cancer can be missed when the screening test is done. However, regular screening offers the best chance of detecting the early signs of colorectal cancer. It is also important, even if you have had a normal result, to monitor your own health and see your healthcare provider immediately if you have any symptoms, including blood in your stool, changes in your bowel habits or abdominal pain.

How will I receive the results of my FOBT test?

Within 2-3 weeks, Cancer Care Ontario’s ColonCancerCheck program will contact you directly with your colorectal screening test results.

If your results are normal, ColonCancerCheck will send you a letter. You will automatically receive a recall letter from ColonCancerCheck in 2 years for a repeat colorectal screening with the FOBT kit.

If your results indicate that further testing is required, Cancer Care Ontario’s ColonCancerCheck program or your healthcare provider will contact you directly to make arrangements for follow-up.

What does it mean if more tests are needed?

Most people who need more tests do not have colorectal cancer. Your result letter from Cancer Care Ontario’s ColonCancerCheck program will state if you need more tests. Your healthcare provider or ColonCancerCheck will advise you about what further tests will be required.

If I’ve already completed the FOBT, do I have to do it again?

By completing the FOBT every two years, the hidden signs of colorectal cancer can be found early. Regular screening is important for finding signs of colorectal cancer early. Like many forms of cancer, you may not have symptoms until the cancer has grown.