Colorectal Cancer Awareness

09 March 2016

Montreal -

Quebec is still the only province in the country that hasn’t implemented an organized screening program for colorectal cancer. A year ago, the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) took the opportunity in March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, to ask Health Minister Dr Gaétan Barrette to quickly table a timetable for the implementation of the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer colorectal (PQDCCR). A year later, we’re still waiting for a response.

Colorectal cancer kills more people than breast and prostate cancers combined. It’s in fact the leading cause of cancer mortality in non-smokers. A timetable for the implementation of the PQDCCR would give us idea of when all Quebecers aged between 50 and 74 who are at medium risk will be able to take the FIT every two years to reduce the number of deaths caused by this cancer. The FIT1, which is recommended as a screening test by the the Ministry of Health and Social Services, is painless. It requires no preparation, is very effective and enables a person to take a small stool sample at home to be tested in the laboratory. If the result is positive (presence of blood), a colonoscopy is done to confirm colorectal cancer. Precancerous growths (polyps) can be removed at the same time to prevent them from turning into cancer over time.

“In the absence of an organized screening program for a group at risk, a doctor’s prescription is necessary to take the FIT. Now, according to a survey commissioned by the CCS2 , only one in five Quebecers aged between 50 and 74 has heard about colorectal cancer screening from a healthcare professional and nearly half of them say that it’s unlikely they’ll take a FIT over the next two years, which is proof that we have to do a lot more,” says Mélanie Champagne, Director of Public Issues, CCS – Quebec Division.

The CCS is convinced that an organized program would create public awareness of the importance of colorectal cancer screening tests. “For as long as there’s no organized program, it will be impossible to ensure that the two million people eligible for the PQDCCR will be taken care of at the right moment. Despite some progress since the program was announced in 2011, the overall implementation of the program at the provincial level has yet to take place and we’re worried,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division. “We’re asking Minister Barrette to table a clear timetable to reach the final goal: ensure access to screening, avoid difficult treatments and save more lives.”

Meanwhile, the CCS strongly urges Quebecers aged between 50 and 74 to discuss colorectal cancer screening with a doctor. The important thing is to be able to act before cancer develops because when screened early, colorectal cancer has a five-year survival rate of more than 90%. Those who have questions about screening or colorectal cancer can also contact the CCS’s cancer information specialists by phone at 1 888 939-3333 or visit cancer.ca.

  1. Fecal immunochemical test to look for occult blood (invisible to the naked eye) in the stool.
  2. Web survey conducted between February 22 and 25, 2016 in a representative sample of 1,005 Quebecers aged 18 and above and able to speak French or English. Using Statistics Canada data, the results were weighted for sex, age, geographic region, language spoken at home, education and presence of children in the household to make the sample representative of the population studied.

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, it fights to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries and help more people living with the disease. Let’s save more lives.

André Beaulieu
Senior Advisor, Communication
Canadian Cancer Society
Quebec Division
Phone: 514 217-8327

Mélanie Champagne
Director, Public Issues
Canadian Cancer Society
Quebec Division
Cell: 514 651-1470