March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

CRC Month 2022

March 31, 2022

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Colorectal Cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in Canada, accounting for 11% of all cancers. Every day, 68 Canadians are diagnosed with CRC, and 26 Canadians die from it.

LHSC’s Endoscopy Program plays a key role in screening and diagnosing colorectal cancer as part of Ontario's CRC screening program, and in the treatment of pre-cancerous lesions. Early detection is key to improved outcomes. As such, population-based screening is crucial because it can help detect CRC and identify pre-cancerous lesions for removal before they turn malignant. Ontario’s provincial CRC screening program utilizes a non-invasive at home stool test to identify microscopic blood, called the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). Those with a positive FIT test require an urgent colonoscopy, as up to two-thirds of cases will have relevant pre-cancerous lesions (polyps), and 5-7% will have cancer.    Approximately 5,000 colonoscopies are performed each year at LHSC, including dedicated slots for FIT positive patients.

Some facts about the LHSC Endoscopy Program:

  • Endoscopy is performed at both Victoria and University Hospitals on outpatients and inpatients
  • Endoscopy supports multiple medical services including Gastroenterology/Hepatology, General Surgery, Hepatobiliary Surgery, Thoracic Surgery, Respirology, and Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • LHSC is a tertiary referral center for advanced therapeutic endoscopy and receives transfers from other hospitals/regions for specialized endoscopic care
  • Advanced endoscopic resection techniques for complex pre-cancerous colorectal polyps are performed at LHSC
  • LHSC provides emergency after hours endoscopy with the support of a nurse and physician on-call for both sites
  • Urgent/emergent cases are most often acute gastrointestinal bleeds or when there is a foreign body in the intestinal tract for removal.
  • About 99 per cent of patients are sedated during this procedure – 80 per cent receive conscious sedation, 20 per cent receive deep sedation with the support of anesthesiology
  • For both sites, the team consists of about 40 nurses, two charge nurses, a clinical educator, six clerks, four endoscopy aides, the medical device reprocessing technicians, anesthesiology team, and the endoscopy physicians and their medical secretaries.
  • The Endoscopy program supports trainee education including all levels of residents and fellows

When to get screened:

  • Anyone between the ages of 50-74 can get screened with the FIT test
  • Certain people at higher risk for colorectal cancer may benefit from having screening colonoscopies instead of FIT
  • Speak with your primary care provider to see which test is most appropriate for you