Colorectal cancer is the third-most diagnosed type of cancer in Canada. It is 90% curable when found early. There is only a 10% chance of curing colorectal cancer if it's detected at an advanced stage which is why regular screening is so important.
Ontario offers a free screening program to help protect people from colorectal cancer. The Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) is a simple, self-administered test that can be done in the privacy of your own home. Small amounts of stool are applied to a cardboard slide. The FOBT detects trace amounts of blood in the stool that may indicate the presence of a cancer. It is recommended that everyone 50 years and older should be screened with a FOBT every two years.
If results are positive, the second test – a colonoscopy – is performed by a specialist in hospital as an outpatient test. Colonoscopies involve examining the lining of the rectum and colon using a thin flexible fiberoptic instrument with a tiny camera on the end. If necessary, biopsies are taken and polyps are removed. Removing benign polyps can prevent cancer from developing.
Niagara Falls (Greater Niagara General Site), St. Catharines Site and Welland (Welland Hospital Site) hospitals all offer colonoscopies as part of the Colorectal Screening Program. Colonoscopies are booked through a physician’s office.
To get an FOBT kit, contact your health-care provider or pharmacist.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is colorectal cancer?
Colon cancer develops in the large intestine, generally from tiny growths inside the colon called polyps. Over time, some polyps can become cancerious. The term colorectal refers to both colon and rectal cancer.
- How common is colorectal cancer?
Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario. It is also the second leading cause of cancer dealths in men after lung cancer and the third leading cause of cancer deaths in women after lung and breast cancer.
- Who is at risk for developing colorectal cancer?
Men and women 50 years or older with no family history of colorectal cancer are considered to be at average risk and should be screened using take home Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years. Please speak to your healthcare provider about screening.
You have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer if you have one or more close family members (parent, sibling, child) who have had colorectal cancer or if you have a positive FOBT result. It is recommended that you get screened using colonoscopy at 50 or 10 years earlier than the age of the diagnosis of your parent or sibling. Please speak to your healthcare provider about screening.
- I don't have a healthcare provider. How do I get screened?
If you don’t have a health care provider you can speak to a representative from the ColonCancerCheck program by calling 1-866-410-5853. They will provide you with details on how to get screened.