FAQs

What is ColonCancerCheck?

ColonCancerCheck is a province-wide screening program for Ontario residents  to help raise screening rates and reduce deaths from colon cancer.

The ColonCancerCheck program has two arms for colon cancer screening: Average Risk for the general population, ages 50 to 74, and Increased Risk for Ontario residents with a family history. For more information on the Average Risk and Increased Risk programs click here.

Who is at average risk for colon cancer?

Ontario residents ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or first-degree family history (parent, sibling or child with colon cancer) are encouraged to take the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every 2 years.

Ask your healthcare provider about this free, easy at-home test that screens for colon cancer.

Anyone who doesn’t have a healthcare provider can visit the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach or all Telehealth Ontario’s colon cancer screening line at 1-866-828-9213.

Who is at increased risk of colon cancer?

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

What is my risk of developing colon cancer?

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

Why is colon cancer screening important?

While colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Ontario, it’s highly treatable when caught early. In fact, when caught early, nine out of every 10 people with colon cancer can be cured. In its later stages, colon cancer is more difficult to treat.

When should I be screened for colon cancer?

Ontario men and women ages 50 to 74 with no symptoms or family history are encouraged to take the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every 2 years.

People are considered at increased risk if a close family member  (parent, sibling or child) has been diagnosed with colon cancer. Screening should begin at age 50, or 10 years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed — whichever comes  first. People at increased risk should speak to their healthcare provider about a colonoscopy.

What is the fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

FIT is a simple, safe and accurate at-home test that checks stool (poop) for tiny amounts of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer and/or growths called polyps that can turn into cancer over time. Eligible residents are encouraged to take the test every 2 years. Screening with FIT can catch signs of colon cancer early, when it’s easier to treat. When caught early, nine out of every 10 people with colon cancer can be cured. However, once colon cancer spreads to other parts of the body it’s much more difficult to treat.

Where can I get the FIT at-home screening test?

FIT kits are available through family doctors or nurse practitioners. Anyone without a healthcare provider can call Telehealth Ontario’s colon cancer screening line at 1-866-828-9213 or the Mobile Cancer Screening Coach at 1-855-338-3131.

LifeLabs will mail eligible people a FIT kit following a request from their provider. The completed test can be mailed back to the lab or dropped off at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre. For LifeLabs locations, visit locations.lifelabs.com.

If the test comes back positive, the next step is a colonoscopy for a closer look.

How do I complete the FIT?

This section is being updated

What if I have a family history of colorectal cancer?

If you have a first-degree family history of colon cancer (parent, sibling or child with this disease) or have symptoms, talk to your healthcare provider about booking a colonoscopy.

Is the at-home test 100% accurate?

Every test in medicine has limitations and screening tests are no exception. The at-home screening test increases the chances of detecting colon cancer early but does not catch everyone. This is called a false negative test. Even a colonoscopy is not 100% accurate. Trying to do a colonoscopy on everyone as a screening test is simply not possible so Cancer Care Ontario recommends patients use the at-home test every two years starting at age 50 unless they have a family history of colon cancer (parent, sibling or child with colon cancer) or other high risk factors. You are welcome to direct message the Regional Cancer Screening Program with additional questions.

How will I receive the results of my at-home test?

Cancer Care Ontario will mail you a letter with your test result. Your family doctor or nurse practitioner will also get a copy of your test result from LifeLabs.

If your test result is abnormal, it does not necessarily mean that you have colorectal cancer or polyps that could become cancer, but it does mean that additional testing is needed. ColonCancerCheck recommends that people with an abnormal result have a colonoscopy within 8 weeks. For more information on abnormal test results and colonoscopy click here.