Colorectal cancer is preceded for many years by a precancerous condition: polyps.
It has been demonstrated that detection and resection of polyps can significantly reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer.
Bleeding undetectable to the naked eye is often associated with the presence of polyps or cancer in its early, pre-symptomatic phase.
The recommended screening test is the immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT). This test involves taking a stool sample, which is then analyzed in a laboratory.
It is recommended that this test be repeated every two years for people presenting no symptoms and no risk factors for colorectal cancer aged 50 to 74.
The Quebec colorectal cancer screening program began gradual deployment in 2011. Pilot projects were conducted in eight institutions in Quebec.
The aim of these projects was to ensure that digestive endoscopy units have the capacity to meet the quality and accessibility standards required to implement the program.
No systematic invitation to participate in this screening will be launched before the necessary adjustments are made. Physicians are nonetheless encouraged as of now to prescribe an iFOBT for patients who they deem to be at risk, as an opportunistic screening measure. We recommend you ask your doctor about applying for such screening.
The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology does not consider colonoscopy to be an appropriate screening method for colorectal cancer. The test is too complex, too expensive, access is too limited, and the risk of serious complications (perforation and hemorrhage) are too high. Moreover, there is no evidence that colonoscopy has more advantages than disadvantages as a screening method in populations at average risk for colorectal cancer.