Celebrating pan-Canadian success in colorectal cancer care


March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (the Partnership) is highlighting partner successes and initiatives that are improving colorectal cancer prevention and care in Canada. Colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Canada, and can be more effectively treated when found early through screening.

The Partnership recognizes the dedication and successes of partners across the country in developing high-quality colorectal cancer screening programs in their jurisdictions. Increased access to screening and reducing wait times in diagnosing colorectal cancer can be critical to improved outcomes, which is why diagnosing cancers like colorectal cancer faster, accurately and at an earlier stage is one of the eight priorities in the Canadian Strategy for Cancer Control. We look forward to supporting partners as they build on these successful initiatives.

– Erika Nicholson, Vice President of Cancer Systems and Innovation

Quality improvement projects

The Partnership recently supported quality improvement projects to advance colorectal cancer screening to better meet individual patient needs, improve access to appropriate screening with the “at home” FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) kit and reduce wait times for diagnostic colonoscopy for people with abnormal (FIT+) screening results.

Partners from participating provinces shared the results of the quality improvement projects they implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic with members of the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network:

Saskatchewan: Successfully implemented a centralized endoscopy scheduling system in Saskatoon, to reduce wait times between receiving an abnormal screening result and receiving a diagnostic colonoscopy for FIT+ patients. Learnings and data from this will support further roll out across the province.

Nova Scotia: Implemented the FIT-PLUS program to improve colonoscopy wait times for FIT-PLUS patients and ensure all patients with high-risk colon lesions have access to high quality, timely care. They’ve also advanced their IT infrastructure, including creating a system that identifies appropriate screening pathways – FIT or colonoscopy – for participants in their colon cancer prevention program.

Prince Edward Island: Standardized the pathway for screening participants to reduce colonoscopy wait times for FIT+ patients, and support patients throughout the care process.

Manitoba: Expanded the colorectal screening program to provide guidance, triage, and management of patients at high-risk for colorectal cancer based on familial/personal risk factors. Healthcare providers are now sent reminders for future surveillance based on patient needs. This expansion helps ensure all Manitobans at risk of colorectal cancer receive proper and timely care.

These new additions to our program will actively inform patients and their primary care providers about their increased risk due to family history, as well as any program identified needs for future surveillance after colonoscopy. It encourages patients to engage with their primary care provider and discuss their future screening and surveillance needs.

– Dr. Ross Stimpson, Medical Lead, Cancer Care Manitoba

Read the Colorectal cancer screening in Canada 2021-22 environmental scan to learn about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on screening across jurisdictions and how the Partnership provided support.

To learn more about the importance of increasing participation in colorectal cancer screening in Canada, visit Priority 2 of the Strategy.

About the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network

Established by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer in 2007, the National Colorectal Cancer Screening Network is building momentum towards a shared approach to colon cancer screening across the country. Programs are shared to support improved quality and consistency as each province and territory develops its own screening program, evaluation methods, quality initiatives and outreach.