Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada - CCAC

Advocacy > The Need for a National Policy  

Screening for Colorectal Cancer:
The Need for a National Policy

The maddening paradox is that the second-leading cause of cancer mortality in Canada is one of the most preventable major diseases. Through a combination of lifestyle changes and regular screening, the majority of cases of colorectal cancer could be prevented, and the death rate from the disease would be much lower, yet currently only a small percentage of Canadians between the ages of 50 and 74 are undergoing screening for the disease. "Regular screening is the best way to prevent death from colorectal cancer and we recommend that all Canadians be screened starting at age 50," declares Barry Stein, CCAC president in Montreal and himself diagnosed with the condition almost 10 years ago. "People with a family history of the disease should be screened earlier."

Although over 20,000 male and female Canadians annually are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, and some 8,500 die of it, the Association’s slogan is "Preventable, Treatable and Beatable," and the motto largely springs from the power of screening to make a huge difference. "In 1999, Ontario put together an expert panel which recommended government support for screening programs," notes Dr. Terry Sullivan, president of Cancer Care Ontario in Toronto. "Since that time there has been a very solid international consensus on the benefits of screening for colorectal cancer in preventing the disease."

The CCAC is working with the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control and other cancer associations across Canada to encourage the establishment of population-based screening programs in each province, based on the Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). This method, along with other screening methods, are described in the next section.