March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month: still no timetable for an organized screening program in Quebec

MONTREAL, March 9, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - 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 FIT1 every two years to reduce the number of deaths caused by this cancer. The FIT, 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.

"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."  

See full press release at

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.  



SOURCE Canadian Cancer Society

For further information: André Beaulieu, Senior Advisor, Communication, Canadian Cancer Society, Cell: 514 217-8327; Mélanie Champagne, Director, Public Issues, Canadian Cancer Society, Cell: 514 651-1470


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