Colon Cancer Screening with the FOBT Kit

Average risk Ontarians, between the ages of 50 to 74 years, should complete a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit (pictured above) to screen for colon cancer every 2 years. The FOBT kit looks for trace amounts of blood in the stool, and can be picked up from your primary care provider. If you don’t have a primary care provider, call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213 or talk to your pharmacist.

In Ontario, colon cancer is the third most common cancer, and currently the second leading cause of cancer related deaths. However, when colon cancer is detected early, it is among the most treatable forms of cancer, with 9 out of 10 people cured.

Cancer screening helps to identify colon cancer before it causes symptoms, when it is often smaller and more easily treatable. For the average Ontarian, the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kit is the first line screening test. This test is offered to average risk Ontarians between the ages of 50 to 74, every 2 years. People who are at higher than average risk are usually offered screening colonoscopy, with the timing individualized based on your risk profile.

Colon cancers, even early ones, tend to be fragile and bleed easily. The FOBT kit looks for trace amounts of blood in the stool, amounts that would not be visible to the naked eye. If blood is found in the stool, it does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. Your health care provider or a member of the ColonCancerCheck team (Ontario’s provincial colon cancer screening program) will contact you to arrange a follow-up colonoscopy.

The FOBT kit is very simple to complete. It is done in the privacy of your home, and can be dropped off to the lab or placed in the mail.

Completing the kit is as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Pick up the kit from your primary care provider.
    Tip: Check the expiry date as the kit must be completed 1 month before it expires.
  2. Take three different stool samples (thin smears), on separate days, during a 10 day period.
    Tip: Make sure to avoid citrus fruits and vitamin C supplements for 3 days before and while completing the test.
  3. Make sure the test is labeled with your name, birth date, and the date and times of all the samples. Place the card in the foil envelope with the lab slip, and either drop off the white envelope at the lab or send via mail.

If you don’t have a primary care provider:

  • Call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213 to enter the program; or
  • Talk to your pharmacist — he or she can share information about the program and give you a Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) kit.

If you have symptoms, think that you may be at higher than average risk for colon cancer, or wish to discuss your colon cancer risk, you should contact your primary care provider to review your symptoms or risk profile, discuss investigations or screening options and measures for prevention.

For more information about your risk of developing cancer, visit and complete a confidential online risk assessment for 6 different types of cancer, including colon cancer. For more information contact ColonCancerCheck directly by email at or call INFOline at 1-866-410-5853 — ask about the program and how to join.