Colorectal Cancer Screening Program
Regular screening to detect pre-cancerous polyps (growths) before they become cancer or early stage cancer cells can improve your chance for a complete recovery.
How do I get screened for colorectal cancer?
Screening may be done by a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or by colonoscopy.
You can get screened through FIT if you:
- are 50-74 years of age;
- are of average risk for colorectal cancer; and
- have a valid PEI Health Card.
What is the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)?
The FIT can detect blood in your stool, which can be a sign of pre-cancer. You can do a FIT at home by following the instructions provided with the kit. There is no preparation required for the test.
Should I have a FIT?
Screening regularly increases the chance of detecting colorectal cancer early, when it is most curable, resulting in higher survival rates and less treatment and surgery.
FIT is recommended every two years for those of average risk who are 50-74 years of age.
Note: If you’ve had a sigmoidoscopy or a gastroscopy, you can participate in the FIT Home Screening Test.
How do I know if I am at risk of colorectal cancer?
You are of average risk for colorectal cancer if you:
- have no family history of colorectal cancer (parent or sibling); or
- are not experiencing symptoms such as:
- change in bowel movements;
- visible blood in your stool; or
- excessive vomiting.
You may be of increased risk for colorectal cancer and should consult a health professional if you:
- have a family history of colorectal cancer;
- have a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps; or
- are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- change in bowel movements;
- blood (bright red or dark) in your stool;
- long-standing diarrhea or constipation;
- weight loss or fatigue; or
- extreme vomiting.
When should I not have a FIT test?
You should not have a FIT test if:
- you notice blood in your stool (poop);
- you have hemorrhoids that are bleeding;
- you have had a colonoscopy within the past 5 years;
- it has been less than 2 years since your last test;
- you have had colon cancer, polyps or an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis (contact your doctor or nurse practitioner as you may need a colonoscopy instead);
- you are on your period;
- you have diarrhea and you cannot collect a sample; or
- you cannot do the test within 7 days due to constipation.
How do I get a FIT kit?
If you are eligible for the Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, you can order a FIT kit by:
- completing the FIT Home Screening Test Request Form, [PDF | 514 KB] and submitting it to Health PEI by:
- fax – (902) 370-5870
- email – email@example.com
- mail – Colorectal Cancer Screening Program, 152 St. Peters Road, Charlottetown, PE C1A 5P8
- calling 1-888-561-2233 (toll-free) or (902) 368-5901 to request a FIT kit be mailed to your home; or
- picking up a FIT Kit at a health centre.
Once I have the FIT kit, what do I need to do?
These are the steps to take:
- Collect samples of your stool by carefully following the easy FIT instructions.
- Do not keep any samples in the freezer.
- You should only take a sample from one bowel movement per day.
- You must write your name and collection date on the collection card using a permanent pen.
- Deliver your FIT kit to any health centre or hospital laboratory.
- You, your family doctor or nurse practitioner will receive the test results by mail or fax.
- If your FIT result shows blood in stool, you need to follow up with a health care provider, family doctor, or nurse practitioner to discuss the next steps.
- Note: If your result was normal, there may be a chance that you could still have cancer or polyps. Because polyps don't always bleed, or the sample may have missed blood; regular screening every two years is essential.
What if I do not have a bowel movement each day and it takes more than three days for me to complete the test?
- Collect the first sample and keep it in the fridge, then collect the second sample on the third or fourth day and bring both samples to the nearest hospital lab as soon as possible (48 hours).
- You can also drop off the first sample and bring in the second sample later.
- If more than 10 days have passed between the collection and the analysis, you must repeat the test.
Where are the drop-off locations?
At the "specimen collection" counter in a hospital:
- Queen Elizabeth Hospital, 60 Riverside Dr, Charlottetown
- Prince County Hospital, 65 Roy Boates Ave, Summerside
- Souris Hospital, 17 Knights Ave, Souris
- Kings County Memorial Hospital, 409 MacIntyre Ave, Montague
- Community Hospital, 14 MacKinnon Dr, O’Leary
- Western Hospital, 148 Poplar St, Alberton
At a Health Centre:
- Charlottetown: 152 St. Peters Road - Four Neighborhoods Health Centre
- Charlottetown: 199 Grafton Street - The Polyclinic, Dr. McKenna and NP Stephanie MacDonald's office
- Souris: 7 Green Street - Eastern Kings Health Centre
- Montague: 407 MacIntyre Avenue - Montague Health Centre
- Hunter River: 4276 Hopedale Road - Central Queens Health Centre
- North Rustico: 7379 Cavendish Road, Rte 6 - Gulf Shore Health Centre
- Kensington: 55 Victoria Street - Kensington Health Centre
- Tyne Valley: 6905 Route 12, Tyne Valley Health Centre
- O'Leary: 14 MacKinnon Drive - O'Leary Health Centre
At a doctor's office that has a "lab-run". Ask your doctor's office for drop off.