New test makes screening for colon cancer easier, safer and more accurate

Posted on Thursday July 04, 2019

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Available across Durham Region, the improved test enables earlier detection of cancer

Durham residents now have access to the new Fecal Immunonchemical Test (FIT), a more accurate and easier screening method for colon cancer that is available free of charge from primary care providers, as part of the provincial ColonCancerCheck program. 

The FIT is a simple, safe and accurate at-home test that checks a person’s stool (poop) for tiny amounts of blood, which could be caused by colon cancer and/or pre-cancerous polyps (growths in the colon or rectum that can turn into cancer over time). 

Colorectal cancer, also called colon or bowel cancer, is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in Ontario and the second most common cause of cancer death. According to Cancer Care Ontario, an estimated 11,595 Ontarians were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and about 3,359 people died from the disease in 2018. Getting tested for colorectal cancer is the best way to find the disease early, when it is easier to treat. 

The FIT replaces the earlier fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and offers several advantages: 

  • It is a more sensitive screening test, enabling quicker and earlier detection of colon cancer and pre-cancerous polyps;
  • The FIT is more user-friendly with an easier-to-use collection device that reduces the amount of contact people have with their stool; 
  • Only one stool sample is needed with FIT; and
  • Unlike earlier testing methods, there are no medication or dietary restrictions, including vitamin C and red meat. 

Cancer Care Ontario and the Central East Regional Cancer Program at Lakeridge Health recommend that people who have no symptoms and are at average risk of getting colon cancer get checked using FIT every two years. Someone is at average risk for colon cancer if they are 50 to 74 years old with no first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister or child) who has been diagnosed with colon cancer. 

People ages 50 to 74 can discuss their eligibility for ColonCancerCheck FIT screening with their health care provider.  Anyone without a health care provider can call Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213. People living in a First Nation community may visit a health centre to discuss their eligibility for a FIT kit. 

LifeLabs will mail eligible people a FIT kit following a request from their health care provider. Once completed by the participant, the FIT can be mailed back to the lab or dropped off at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre (   

Eligible people in Ontario will continue to receive letters to invite them to get screened, tell them about their test results, let them know if they need to get more tests done and remind them when it is time to be screened again. 

For more information on colon cancer screening in Ontario, visit  


“Someone with colorectal cancer has a 90 per cent chance of being cured if the cancer is caught early; when it comes to colorectal cancer, what you don’t know can hurt you.  Fortunately, screening plays an integral role in early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer.  For individuals aged 50 to 74 with no family history of colorectal cancer, screening can be as simple as completing a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) in the comfort of their own home.”

Dr. Avnish Mehta, Regional Primary Care Lead, Central East Regional Cancer Program 

“On June 24th, Ontario transitioned from the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) to the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for colon cancer screening. The FIT is a more sensitive screening test than the FOBT and is better at detecting colorectal cancer. FIT is a simple, safe and painless at-home cancer screening test. Regular cancer screening (getting checked) is important because it can find colon cancer early when it may be smaller and easier to treat.”

Kirsten Burgomaster, B. Kin (Hons), PhD (Physiol)

Regional Vice President (Interim), Central East Regional Cancer Program

Lakeridge Health


About Lakeridge Health
Lakeridge Health is Durham Region’s acute health care provider. With five hospitals, four emergency departments, a residential treatment centre and more than a dozen community health care locations, the new Lakeridge Health is working to provide the best experience for patients and their families. Home to the R.S. McLaughlin Durham Regional Cancer Centre and Pinewood Centre, Lakeridge Health also provides regional mental health, eye care and nephrology services. Lakeridge Health’s dedicated team of more than 5,400 employees, more than 760 physicians and 1,500 volunteers provide care to the more than 650,000 people living and working in Durham Region. Visit us on social media on Twitter or Facebook.


For more information, please contact:

Sharon Navarro

Strategic Communications, Lakeridge Health

C: 905-435-7889