There are different types of colorectal cancer screening tests, including: the at-home fecal occult blood test (FOBT) and visual inspection of the colon by means of a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Colorectal cancer screening is intended to detect cancer at an early stage in healthy people who are not showing signs of the disease. Ontario’s colorectal cancer screening program, ColonCancerCheck, recommends that people ages 50 to 74 without a family history of colorectal cancer (i.e. those at average risk) be screened every 2 years with an FOBT, followed by colonoscopy for those with an abnormal (positive) FOBT. For people at increased risk of colorectal cancer due to a family history (i.e. they have a parent, sibling or child diagnosed with the disease), the recommendation is to be screened with a colonoscopy beginning at age 50, or 10 years earlier than the age at which their relative was diagnosed, whichever occurs first.
In 2014, there wear nearly 62,000 eligible Simcoe Muskoka residents between 50 and 74 years of age that were “overdue” for colorectal cancer screening. Individuals are considered "overdue" if they have not had an FOBT in 2 years, colonoscopy in 10 years, or flexible sigmoidoscopy in 5 years. The age-adjusted colorectal cancer screening “overdue” rate (i.e. in need of screening) among eligible Simcoe Muskoka residents in 2014 was 36%, which was significantly lower than the overall provincial “overdue” rate of 40%. The colorectal cancer screening “overdue” rate has improved (i.e. decreased) significantly each of the past three years both in Simcoe Muskoka and in the province as a whole. The percentage of eligible adults “overdue” for colorectal screening in Simcoe Muskoka has been significantly below the provincial rate each of the past four years.
Among adults 50 to 74 years of age living in urban areas in Ontario in 2014, being “overdue” (i.e. in need of screening) for colorectal cancer screening decreased steadily and significantly as urban neighbourhood income quintiles rose.