Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: delay in implementing organized screening - The Canadian Cancer Society asks the Health Ministry to submit a timetable as soon as possible for the implementation of an organized program for colorectal cancer screening!

03 March 2015

Montreal -

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) would like to take the opportunity to press the government for the speedy implementation of the Programme québécois de dépistage du cancer colorectal (PQDCCR), which was promised a few years ago. In the next few months, the CCS would like Minister Barrette to commit to presenting a clear timetable and confirm the continued funding of its implementation.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in Quebec. It kills more men and women than prostate and breast cancers combined. “Every day, 19 Quebecers are diagnosed with colorectal cancer and seven die from it1. Between 230 and 275 lives could be saved each year if at least one in two Quebecers aged between 50 and 74 took a fecal occult blood test every two years2. In 2010, the CCS welcomed the government’s decision to put in place the PQDCCR. Five years later, we are asking the government to guarantee timely access to the program because there is an urgent need to act,” says Suzanne Dubois, Executive Director, CCS – Quebec Division.

Over the past few years, important work was carried out in eight health institutions (pilot projects), which helped cut down the waiting lists for colonoscopy, standardize the practice and upgrade endoscopy units. The CCS wants pilot project evaluation reports to be made public so that we can assess where we are and what still remains to be done.

“The absence of an organized screening program for colorectal cancer is responsible for difficult treatments that could for the most part be avoided when the disease is detected early. Not to mention that screening can help prevent cancers even before they develop,”3 says Mélanie Champagne, Director, Public Issues, CCS – Quebec Division.

Apart from Quebec, all other Canadian provinces have colorectal cancer screening programs and in many cases, they are operational and offered to everybody in the target group. Currently, access to colorectal cancer screening is uneven for the 2 million Quebecers who could benefit from it. Without an organized program, a doctor’s prescription is required for a colorectal cancer screening test5. But in a region like Montreal, three in ten people don’t have a family doctor4.

“The CCS is worried that many Quebecers run the risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer too late. It hopes that the PQDCCR will be a reality in Quebec within the next few years,” adds Ms. Dubois. “Until then, the CCS encourages people aged between 50 and 74 to talk to a healthcare professional about undergoing a colorectal cancer screening test. It’s a move that could save lives.”

[1] Canadian Cancer Statistics 2014. Canadian Cancer Society.

[2] INSPQ. 2008. Pertinence et faisabilité d’un programme de dépistage du cancer colorectal au Québec. p.27

[3] Colorectal cancer screening can detect polyps and remove them immediately before they develop into cancers.

[4] Institut de la statistique du Québec. 2013. Enquête québécoise sur l’expérience de soins 2010-2011 : Le médecin de famille et l’endroit habituel de soins : regard sur l’expérience vécue par les Québécois.

[5] The FIT (fecal immunochemical test) is a simple, effective and safe tool that can be used at home. This test enables the detection of blood in the stools, which could be a sign of cancer. If blood is detected, a colonoscopy is done to confirm the diagnosis.

Every day, the Canadian Cancer Society works to save more lives. With the support of thousands of Quebecers, donors and volunteers, we fight to prevent more cancers, enable our researchers to make more discoveries and help more people touched by the disease. Let’s save more lives. Visit cancer.ca or call us at 1 888 939-3333.

For more information, please contact:

André Beaulieu

Spokesperson and Senior Advisor, Public Relations

Canadian Cancer Society

Quebec Division

Phone: (514) 393-3444