Status Updates

Primary Care Provider Update: Organized Cancer Screening Resumption


  • Ontario Health (Cancer Care Ontario) (OH-CCO) recommended that all routine cancer screening tests be deferred in mid-March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. All cancer screening correspondence letters that invite or recall eligible participants for screening were also stopped at that time.
  • In consultation with provincial and regional clinical leadership, OH-CCO recommended that organized cancer screening services could gradually resume using a risk-based prioritization framework on June 30, 2020. Provincial and regional COVID-19 incidence and prevalence rates continue to be monitored and policies adjusted accordingly.
  • The provincial deferral of screening tests, combined with reluctance expressed by some patients to attend appointments and a higher than expected no-show rate for screening and diagnostic procedures, has resulted in a significant backlog of screening tests and delays in cancer diagnosis.

Current Status (Region West and Ontario)

Current Status (Region West and Ontario)

Key Messages and Actions for Providers

  1. Continue to be a cancer screening ambassador and reinforce the importance of screening with your patients. Reassure patients that measures are in place to make their visit safe. Emphasize the importance of attending appointments and giving notice if there is a need to change an appointment so that it can be given to someone else.
  2. Review the screening backlog in your own practice and develop a plan of action. Take advantage of opportunistic screening and consider doing a ‘screening blitz’ like a pap clinic to get caught up. If you belong to a Patient Enrolment Model, your Screening Activity Report can help you identify patients who are a priority for screening. A guide has been developed to help with cancer screening resumption.
  3. Avoid batch faxing or sending multiple requisitions for FIT. LifeLabs is experiencing some delays in processing requisitions and batch and repeat faxing further contributes to these issues. Let patients know it may take longer than usual for their kit to arrive.
  4. Reach out to the Regional Primary Care Lead in your area if you have questions. Please email for assistance connecting with your Lead.

COVID-19 Pandemic Screening Resumption Resources