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Colon Cancer

Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in Manitoba. People over the age of 50 are at higher risk of colon cancer. When colon cancer is detected early, it can be cured 9 out of 10 times.

Age 50-74?

If you're between 50 and 74, you should do a colon cancer screening test every 2 years.

Get a ColonCheck!

The colon cancer screening test looks for hidden blood in the stool (poop) which can be a sign of polyps or early stage cancer. Request a home screening test today.

Colon cancer, also known as colorectal or bowel cancer, starts from polyps (small growths) in the colon or rectum. You can have these polyps for many years and not have signs or symptoms.

Most polyps do not turn into cancer. Some polyps can turn into cancer if they are not removed.

The colon cancer screening test:

  • is the best way to prevent colorectal cancer.
  • can see what you cannot see - hidden blood in the stool.
  • can help find:
    • polyps before they turn into cancer, and
    • colon and rectal cancer in an earlier stage making it more easily treated.

To do the colon cancer screening test, collect stool (poop) samples 3 days in a row. If you do not have daily bowel movements (poops), complete the test within 7 days.

A kit will be sent in the mail once you become eligible (age 50) for colon and rectal cancer screening.

If you received a home screening test kit and did not complete it or it has expired, you can request a home screening test kit by:

  • completing the test request online at the bottom of this page
  • calling ColonCheck at 1-855-95-CHECK (1-855-952-4325)

If you have an abnormal home screening test result:

  • it means that blood was found in your stool.
  • it does not mean that cancer has necessarily been found.
  • you will be referred for a colonoscopy.

Colon Cancer Screening Test Instructions

Colon Cancer Screening Test

The colon cancer screening test is done in the privacy of your own bathroom. To do the home screening test, collect stool (poop) samples 3 days in a row. If you do not have daily bowel movements (poops), complete the test within 7 days.

Most people age 50-74 are at average risk for colon or rectal cancer and should do a colon cancer screening test every 2 years.

People of any age at increased risk for colon or rectal cancer may require additional testing. Speak with your healthcare provider to better understand your personal risk and which screening test is best for you.

Factors that impact your risk of colon or rectal cancer include a:

  • personal history of:
    • colon or rectal cancer, or polyps requiring surveillance.
    • suspicion or diagnosis of hereditary syndromes related to colon or rectal cancer (Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis).
    • diagnosis of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.
  • family history of parents, siblings or children who have been diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer at any age.

If you are unsure of your eligibility for ColonCheck, speak with your healthcare provider or contact ColonCheck.

Vitamin C

Limit your vitamin C intake to less than 250 mg per day for 3 days before, and during the time you do the test. Continue to eat your usual diet except for vitamin C, as large amounts of vitamin C may hide blood that is in the stool. Click here (pdf) to read a complete list of foods that contain vitamin C.

Colon Cancer Screening Test Kit Instructions

Instructions (PDF) to complete the colon cancer screening test are available in these languages:

The Colon Cancer Screening Test kit contains the following items:

  • ColonCheck invitation letter
  • reply form
  • instructions (also available in Chinese, Filipino, German, Punjabi and Vietnamese)
  • test card
  • 3 sticks
  • 3 sheets of paper to lay in the toilet bowl
  • mailing pouch for completed kit
  • postage paid return envelope (brown)


To view the FOBT kit instructions, click here

The Colon

The colon is part of your body’s digestive system (English | French (jpg)). The colon moves waste material, or things your body does not need, from the small intestine to the rectum. Together the colon and the rectum make up the large intestine (bowel).

The small intestine absorbs most of the nutrients from what you eat and then passes on the leftover waste to the colon. The colon absorbs water from the waste. What is left is called stool (feces or poop). When you have a bowel movement, the stool leaves the rectum through the anus.

Potential Benefits & Potential Harms of Colon Cancer Screening

It important to weigh the potential benefits and potential harms to make an informed decision about colorectal cancer screening. No screening test is perfect.

Potential Benefits

  • The test is safe, simple, and painless.
  • The test is done in the privacy of your own home.
  • Colon cancer screening and recommended follow-up testing can find polyps or colon cancer in its early stages when treatment is most effective.
  • Removing polyps can prevent cancer from developing.
  • Research has shown that screening with the colon cancer screening test (FOBT) can reduce deaths from colon cancer by up to 25%.

Potential Harms

  • False positive results (test result is abnormal when everything is actually normal)
  • False negative results (test result comes back as normal when really there is an abnormality).
  • Some polyps and colon cancers do not bleed. Therefore, the FOBT will not find all polyps or cancer.
  • Completing a colon cancer screening test has little risk or harm. The follow-up test for an abnormal home screening test result is a colonoscopy English | French (pdf) .
    • A colonoscopy is the most effective way to diagnose colon cancer, and can prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps before they turn into cancer.
    • Bleeding may occur after biopsies or removal of a polyp. In rare cases, you may need to receive blood or require surgery to repair a hole in the colon. In very rare cases, people have died.


There are three possible colon cancer screening test results:

An abnormal result does not necessarily mean you have cancer. There are many possible reasons for blood in your stool. More testing will need to be done to see where the blood is coming from. A colonoscopy is usually recommended if you have an abnormal colon cancer screening test result. Repeating a colon cancer screening test after a positive result is not recommended. A positive result needs further investigation, regardless of the reason.

Follow-Up Testing

When a person has a positive colon cancer screening test result:

  • ColonCheck will contact you and your health care provider, and
  • you will be referred for a colonoscopy.

A colonoscopy allows the doctor to examine the inside of your colon (bowel) and rectum. A long flexible tube (colonoscope) with a small camera is passed into your rectum and colon. On a video monitor, the doctor looks for any abnormal areas on the lining of your colon. There can be risks with this procedure. Rarely, some people may have bleeding or other complications such as a perforation (tear) in the colon that may require a hospital stay.


If you have these symptoms...

Contact your healthcare provider if you experience any signs or symptoms of colon cancer such as:

  • a persistent change in bowel habits,
  • blood you can see in your stool, or
  • persistent abdominal discomfort and bloating.

Request a ColonCheck Home Screening Test Kit

ColonCheck recommends most people age 50-74 do a colon cancer screening test every 2 years.

Request a colon cancer screening test kit from ColonCheck in one of three ways:

  1. complete the form below,
  2. phone at 1-855-95-CHECK, or
  3. ask your healthcare provider.

If you choose to complete the form below, be sure the information matches your Manitoba Health Card (e.g. full name, not short version) content.


All fields marked with an asterisk (*) are mandatory.


1-855-95-CHECK (1-855-952-4325)

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