Colorectal cancer screening in Canada: Environmental scan (2019-2020)

Highlights of colorectal cancer screening programs’ activities and strategies

Highlights of colorectal cancer screening programs’ activities and strategies

The Partnership collects information on national, provincial, and territorial colorectal screening guidelines, strategies, and activities. The information for this colorectal cancer screening report was collected in June and July 2019. Many provinces and territories provided updated data in early 2020, and this report was updated in November 2020.

Quick facts from this colorectal cancer screening report

  • There are organized colorectal screening programs in one territory and nine provinces. Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Québec do not currently have organized colorectal screening programs. Nunavut is currently implementing a territory-wide program and plans are underway to develop a program in Northwest Territories and Quebec.
  • All provinces and territories screen asymptomatic individuals at average risk of developing colorectal cancer between the ages of 50 and 74 or 75 every 12-30 months with a fecal test.
  • Manitoba offers the guaiac fecal test (FTg) as an entry level test for their colorectal screening program. All other provinces and territories offer fecal immunochemical test (FIT) as an entry level test.
  • Individuals who have an abnormal fecal test are notified of their result and invited for follow-up with a diagnostic colonoscopy. Primary care providers are often responsible for coordinating follow-up. Some jurisdictions have coordinated systems in which a program administrator, nurse navigator or patient coordinator contacts the participant to schedule a colonoscopy.
  • Screening of people at increased risk is facilitated on an individual basis by a person’s health provider and dependent on their specific risk factors. Individuals at increased risk may be screened differently than individuals at average risk and are often screened outside of organized programs.
  • 12 jurisdictions have implemented strategies to increase participation in colorectal screening among First Nations, Inuit and Métis populations.
  • Six provinces and two territories have implemented strategies to increase participation in colorectal screening among underscreened populations.


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