Same place, new test: The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is now available in Ontario

Hamilton plumbing company partners with Regional Cancer Program to promote new colon cancer screening test to the community

HAMILTON, ON (June 24, 2019) — A Hamilton-based plumbing company is teaming up with the Regional Cancer Program to promote a new at-home test for Ontario residents that screens for signs of colorectal cancer, commonly called colon or bowel cancer.

The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is now available free across the province through Cancer Care Ontario’s organized colon cancer screening program, ColonCancerCheck. This test is for Ontario residents, ages 50 to 74, with no first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister or child) diagnosed with colon cancer and no symptoms of the disease such as changes in bowel habits, rectal bleeding or abdominal pain. This screening program targets the 50-to-74 age range because that’s when people are at the greatest risk of developing colon cancer.

“We believe strongly in cancer screening for prevention and early detection,” said Stoney Creek resident Bob Birnie, director at Birnie and Sons Plumbing. “And hey, healthy colons are good for business,” he joked. Joining Bob in promoting FIT to the public are company director Roy Birnie of Hamilton, owner Rob Birnie of Cayuga, plumber Paul Spelman of Burlington and operations manager Gerry O’Shaughnessy of Hamilton.

“We’re encouraging our friends, family members, business associates and community members to `check their plumbing’ by taking this new, easy at-home test,” said Bob. As champions for FIT, the men are sharing their personal stories about why they make time for colon cancer screening through social media and community campaigns organized by the Regional Cancer Program. You can read their stories at or follow on the Regional Cancer Program’s social media: Facebook @screenforlifecoach and Twitter @HNHB_Cancer.

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 two 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.

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

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

FIT replaces the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) for routine screening. FIT is a more sensitive screening test which means it is better at detecting colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps. It’s also more user-friendly and requires only one stool sample. And there are no medication or dietary restrictions (including vitamin C) with FIT.

“Getting checked for colorectal cancer just got easier thanks to the introduction of FIT,” said Dr. Barry Lumb, Regional Endoscopy Lead for ColonCancerCheck, Physician in Chief at Hamilton Health Sciences and Professor with McMaster University’s Department of Medicine.

“Colorectal cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Screening is important because when caught early enough, 90 per cent of people with colon cancer can be cured.”

It is estimated that in 2018, about 11,595 people in Ontario were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 3,359 people in Ontario died from the disease. Getting checked for colorectal cancer is the best way to find the disease early, when it is easier to treat.

Eligible Ontario residents will continue to receive letters inviting them to get screened, telling them about their test results, letting them know if they need to get more tests done and reminding them when it is time to be screened again.

For more information on cancer screening, visit

Media Inquiries:
Lise Diebel
Communications Coordinator
Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Regional Cancer Program
Cell: 905-741-6317