Colorectal Screening Initiative

Colorectal Screening Initiative

The Partnership’s second five-year mandate and the next phase of implementing Canada’s national cancer strategy began in April 2012. The priorities and initiatives for 2012-2017 are outlined in our strategic plan, Sustaining Action Toward a Shared Vision and in the Priorities section of our website. The information below reflects work to the end of March 2012.  

Boosting screening to reduce incidence and mortality

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in Canada[1] but it is highly treatable if caught early. While the number of Canadians taking advantage of potentially life-saving colorectal cancer screening is increasing, a recent survey showed that over half of Canadians of screening age are still not being screened for colorectal cancer.[2] 

This initiative aims to increase population-based colorectal cancer screening by supporting provinces and territories as they work to boost screening within their jurisdictions. Central to this work is the Partnership-initiated National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network (NCCSN), which brings together provincial screening program staff, provincial and territorial government representatives, and representatives from the Canadian Cancer Society, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Canadian Cancer Action Network, the Canadian Medical Association, the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada and the Canadian Association of Gastroenterology. The Network’s objective is to develop a shared approach to planning and implementing colorectal cancer screening in jurisdictions across Canada.

Results for 2011/12:

  • The Partnership further enhanced the Colonversation public awareness campaign, updating colonversation.ca with an educational video, “Five Feet of Fabulous,” which has been viewed over 7,000 times.
  • The Partnership and the NCCSN commissioned a second pan-Canadian survey, Colon Cancer Screening in Canada. The survey polled 4,050 Canadians aged 45 to 74 years on their understanding and attitudes toward getting checked for colon cancer. Conducted by Ipsos Reid, the survey builds on results from a related survey conducted in 2009 and is part of the Colonversation campaign. The survey results were released on February 2 to recognize World Cancer Day.
  • To improve program quality, the NCCSN is working with provinces and territories to develop the second quality indicators report in 2012; data has been received from participating provinces and analysis is in progress. Planning is also underway for the development of the third quality indicators report for release in 2012/13.
  • The NCCSN held a workshop in October 2011 to build consensus on attainable targets and timelines for core quality indicators.
  • In collaboration with the Canadian Association of Pathologists, the NCCSN facilitated the establishment of pan-Canadian consensus on reporting on benign polyps in October 2011. Planning is underway to support pan-Canadian implementation.

For more information on this initiative’s results leading up to 2012 and how the work supports the overall cancer control strategy, please read Key Achievements 2007-2012 and see our annual reports and progress reports


[1] Canadian Cancer Society Steering Committee on Cancer Statistics. “General Cancer Statistics for 2011, May 2011. www.cancer.ca.

[2] The Colon Cancer Screening in Canada survey, commissioned by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer’s National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network. Conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion in partnership with the Applied Health Research Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, released January 2010.