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Colorectal cancer testing in Canada–2008

by Kathryn Wilkins and Margot Shields

Abstract
Keywords
Findings
Authors
What is already known on this subject?
What does this study add?

Abstract

Objectives

This article provides estimates of the reported level of colorectal cancer (CRC) testing in the Canadian population aged 50 or older in 2008.

Data sources and methods

The data are from the 2008 Canadian Community Health Survey.  With weighted data, the percentage of people who had undergone CRC testing (fecal occult blood test in the past two years or endoscopy within the past five years) was estimated.  Bivariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine testing status in relation to personal, socio-economic and other health-related characteristics.

Results

In 2008, an estimated 40% of Canadians aged 50 or older reported that they had had CRC testing. The percentage ranged from 28% in Quebec to 53% in Manitoba.  Testing was associated with being 65 or older, higher income, having a regular doctor, being a non-smoker, and being physically active.

Interpretation

Organized CRC screening was limited in 2008, but may account for some of the differences in participation among the provinces. 

Keywords

colonoscopy, colorectal neoplasms, endoscopy, fecal occult blood test, mass screening, sigmoidoscopy

Findings

As a group, cancers of the colon and rectum constitute the third most common cancer in Canadian adults. An estimated 22,000 new cases were diagnosed in 2008–about one in eight of all new cancers that year. Approximately 94% of colorectal cancers (CRC) are diagnosed in people aged 50 or older. [Full text]

Authors

Kathryn Wilkins (613-951-1769; Kathryn.Wilkins@statcan.gc.ca) and Margot Shields (613-951-4177; Margot.Shields@statcan.gc.ca) are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.

What is already known on this subject?

  • Just over 90% of colorectal cancers (CRC) are diagnosed in people aged 50 or older.
  • Evidence suggests that population screening for colorectal cancer reduces its mortality rate.
  • To date, only Ontario has an organized, province-wide screening program; preliminary steps for programs are under way in other provinces.

What does this study add?

  • In 2008, an estimated 40% of Canadians aged 50 or older reported up-to-date colorectal cancer testing—that is, a fecal occult blood test in the past two years or endoscopy in the past five years.
  • Differences among the provinces and territories in the percentage of the population tested were large.
  • The likelihood of CRC testing was greater among people who lived in higher-income households, had a regular doctor, did not smoke, and were active in their leisure time.