Colorectal Cancer Screening

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Ontario has one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of Ontario cancer deaths after lung cancer, and the third most commonly diagnosed cancer.

A person with colorectal cancer has a 90% chance of being cured if the cancer is caught early enough through screening. The ColonCancerCheck kit (or Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is the screening method for average risk people between the ages of 50 and 74 in Ontario. It’s a simple test that you can do in the privacy of your home. The ColonCancerCheck kit is the most widely available test for screening for colorectal cancer.

Who Can Participate?

When eligible women (hyperlink to breast eligibility) call to make an appointment for a mammogram on the coach, they may be eligible to have a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer or meet with the coach nurse to discuss your wellness and screening history and, if eligible, receive a take-home ColonCancerCheck kit during your visit. Women are eligible to participate if they:

  • Live in Ontario
  • Have no symptoms* of colorectal cancer
  • Are 50 to 74 years of age
  • Have not had a colonoscopy

*Symptoms could include blood in your stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, and unexplained anemia or weight loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your primary care provider about a referral for diagnostic testing.

In addition to breast screening and colorectal screening, women may also be eligible to have a Pap test to screen for cervical cancer when they visit the Screen for Life Coach.

Making an Appointment

Book your own appointment

When women call to make an appointment for a mammogram, they may be eligible to take home a ColonCancerCheck kit to screen for colorectal cancer. There is no charge for this service and you do not need a doctor’s referral.

If you are an OBSP client returning for your next screening visit, you will receive a reminder letter asking you to call the Screen for Life office to schedule your appointment. Please make sure you have your health card handy before you call.

If you live in Thunder Bay and surrounding area call 684-7777. If you live in the Northwest region, call 1-800-461-7031. Or, your family doctor or nurse practitioner can refer you to the Screen for Life Coach.

Your Screen for Life appointment

Once you have booked an appointment, you will receive a letter with the date, time and location of your appointment on the Screen for Life Coach.

Before your appointment, you will receive a phone call from the Screen for Life office to remind you of your appointment on the Screen for Life Coach.

What to Expect

Screen for Life Coach

Our mobile screening coach visits over 60 locations throughout Northwestern Ontario. Parking at the coach location is free. When you arrive you can enter through the side door at the front of the coach and relax in our waiting area. You will be greeted by one of the two female screening staff who are always on the coach. There are private change rooms on the coach but no washroom. Please remember to use the washroom before you come for your appointment.

The Screen for Life coach is wheelchair accessible.

Your Mammogram/Wellness Visit appointment

Your Screen for Life Coach appointment will last approximately 45 minutes: the breast screening mammogram takes approximately 20 minutes, and 20 minutes will be spent having a Pap test (if you are eligible) or meeting with the Nurse to discuss your screening history and receive a ColonCancerCheck kit (if eligible).

Results

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 ColonCancerCheck kit.

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

Our Screen for Life coach provides breast, cervical, and colorectal screening services and ensures that abnormal test result follow-up is coordinated with Prevention and Screening Services Diagnostic Assessment Programs (DAP).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  1. What is ColonCancerCheck?

    The ColonCancerCheck program is the first province-wide, organized screening program designed to raise screening rates and reduce deaths from colorectal cancer. Launched in Ontario in 2008, the program is a partnership between the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Cancer Care Ontario.

    ColonCancerCheck provides funding to screen all average risk adults 50 years and older for colorectal cancer using the ColonCancerCheck kit (Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT) every two years, and to screen those at increased risk – those with a first degree family member (parent, child or sibling) who have had colorectal cancer – with colonoscopy at the age of 50 years, or 10 years earlier than the relative’s age at diagnosis, whichever occurs first.

  2. Why is colorectal cancer screening needed?

    Ontario has among the highest rates of colorectal cancer in the world. Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths, after lung cancer. In Ontario, an estimated 8,300 people were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and approximately 3,400 people died from the disease in 2010. A person with colorectal cancer has a 90% chance of being cured if the cancer is caught early enough through screening. Colorectal cancer screening can be the difference between life and death.

  3. When should I be screened for colorectal cancer?

    In Ontario, it is recommended that men and women ages 50 to 74 (at average risk) be screened for colorectal cancer. For those at average risk for colorectal cancer, a simple at home test – the ColonCancerCheck kit (Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT) – once every two years is recommended. The time to go 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.

  4. What is the ColonCancerCheck kit?

    The ColonCancerCheck kit (Fecal Occult Blood Test or FOBT) is the screening method for average risk people between the ages of 50 and 74 used by ColonCancerCheck. It’s a simple test that you can do in the privacy of your home. The FOBT is the most widely available test for screening for colorectal cancer.

    Download an easy to use FOBT instruction sheet Instructions are available in English, French and 26 other languages. Before you do the test, please check the expiry date on the back of the test card where it says ‘DO NOT OPEN’. Click here to read Frequently Asked Questions about the ColonCancerCheck kit and program.

    http://health.gov.on.ca/en/public/programs/coloncancercheck/fobt.aspx

  5. Can men get the ColonCancerCheck kit on the Screen for Life Coach?

    Currently, men are not able to receive the ColonCancerCheck kit on the Screen for Life Coach. Men are encouraged to speak to their primary care provider about getting screened for colorectal cancer. If they do not have a health care provider they can call Telehealth toll free at 1-888-797-0000.

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

    Age is the most important risk factor for colon cancer. Every year, over 8,000 new cases of colon cancer are diagnosed in Ontario – over 93% of these are in men and women aged 50 or older. Individuals in this age group should be routinely tested.

  7. 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, brother, sister, or child) or have symptoms ColonCancerCheck recommends a colonoscopy to screen for 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. Colonoscopy is recommended for individuals at increased risk, such as those who have one or more close relatives (parent, sibling or child) who had colorectal cancer or those with a positive FOBT result.

  8. If I have no symptoms of colorectal cancer or stomach or bowel problems, do I need to take the test?

    Yes. Screening is recommended for people who are not experiencing symptoms that may indicate colon cancer. Screening finds the hidden signs of colon cancer. In its early stages, there may be no symptoms – that 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 primary care provider about a referral for diagnostic testing.

  9. If I’ve already completed the ColonCancerCheck kit (or FOBT) do I have to do it again?

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

  10. Is the ColonCancerCheck kit 100% accurate?

    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 colon cancer. It is also important, even if you have had a normal result, to monitor your own health and see your primary care provider immediately if you have any symptoms, including blood in your stool, changes in your bowel habits or abdominal pain

  11. What do I do if colorectal cancer screening is not available in my area?

    Colorectal cancer screening is available for average risk women ages 50-74 through the Screen for Life Coach. Men and women in Northwestern Ontario can also talk to their primary care provider about screening. If you don’t have a primary care provider call Telehealth Ontario at 1-888-797-0000.

  12. What does it mean if more tests are needed?

    Most women who need more tests do not have colorectal cancer. Your result letter from Cancer Care Ontario’s ColonCancerCheck program will state that you need more tests. Your doctor or ColonCancerCheck will advise you about what further tests will be required. In Northwestern Ontario, primary care providers can access a Colorectal Diagnostic Assessment Program that alleviates wait times, eases anxiety, and gives patients and families support while they wait for a diagnosis.