News Release - Importance of Screening - NTHSSA Provides Update on Colorectal Cancer Screening Program Launched in 2020

News Release

(Yellowknife, March 21, 2024) – March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month – a cancer that is the second most common cause of cancer related deaths in the Northwest Territories (NWT). Throughout the month of March, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority (NTHSSA) is reminding residents about the importance of healthy habits and regular screening for those who qualify, and sharing information about the Colorectal Cancer Screening program that was launched in 2020.

The program’s main function is to support NWT residents to complete their screening for colorectal cancer by providing fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kits through the mail. Since its introduction, screening rates for colorectal cancer have doubled across the territory – meaning twice as many people are regularly getting screened than before the program was implemented in 2020. Currently, the program is being implemented in Yellowknife which marks the final community to be included in the program roll-out, across the NWT.

Since the launch of the territorial colorectal cancer screening program:

  • Updates were made following feedback from residents on the type of test used to check for colorectal cancer, swapping out the previous 3 sample tests to a simple one-and-done test to make it easier and more convenient for residents to complete.
  • Over 4100 residents across the territory have been sent FIT Kits via mail.
  • Of that number, over 1300 tests have been completed through the program.
  • 242 people have been referred for colonoscopy following use of their FIT Kit.
  • 8 cases of cancer have been found using the FIT Kits.
  • And 74 high-risk lesions have been removed, before they had a chance to become cancers.

Through this program, FIT Kits are sent to residents aged 50-74 who have an NWT Health Care Card, and these individuals can expect to automatically receive a kit in the mail every two years. NWT residents in this age category who have not received a kit or would like another one sent to them sooner than two years, can request to be added to the list at any time by emailing

NWT residents can also choose to opt out of the screening program at any time, but are reminded that if you have opted out, you must opt back into the program to receive a FIT Kit mail-out at a future date.

It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms that may prompt further investigation. Anyone experiencing blood in their stool, unexplained weight loss, or changes in their bowel habits, should talk to their health care provider and not wait for a FIT kit.

Thanks to this program, it has never been easier for people to stay up to date on their colorectal cancer screening since the FIT is a test that people can collect easily, in their own homes, no matter what community a person lives in.

For more information, to request a FIT, or to opt out of the territorial screening program, email, call toll free at 866-313-7989, option 6, contact your health care provider, or visit

“The NTHSSA works closely with the Department of Health and Social Services to provide supports and track cancer rates across the territory. Initiatives such as the Colorectal Cancer Screening program are important methods to support NWT residents ease of access to health services and mitigate rate of this disease – and provide opportunities for early detection and treatment for better outcomes - for generations to come. I urge anyone who receives a kit to do their part and use it. All of us at the NTHSSA will do our part in working to improve care and services and find innovative ways to contribute to the health and wellness of each resident.”

- Kimberly Riles, Chief Executive Officer, Northwest Territories Health and Social Services

Quick Facts:

  • The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is a home poop test to screen for colorectal cancer for persons of average risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Cancerous tumors and other growths in the lining of the colon or rectum have blood vessels on their surface that can release a small amount of blood into the poop. FIT detects the small amount of blood in the poop that is not always visible.
  • The Department of Health and Social Services recently updated colorectal cancer screening guidelines; which anyone with a family history of colorectal cancer should be aware of.

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NTHSSA communications