Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening has shown to be very effective at reducing the number of patients presenting with early and late-stage colorectal cancers. This is due both to the slow rate of growth of CRC, as well as the effectiveness of screening at both detecting and removing pre-cancerous polyps. Ontario’s screening program was shown to half the risk of developing colorectal cancer when combining the effect of Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT, but now largely superseded by the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)), and sigmoidoscopy as well as colonoscopy. This is despite the relatively low rates of CRC screening, which currently sits at 55.2% in Canada. With the effectiveness of CRC screening in mind, it is likely that a decrease in screening rates for any reason would result in an increase in both rates of CRC, and the stage at which they are discovered and diagnosed.
Our goal is to determine if there was a decrease in CRC screening rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, which may provide information on how to balance screening and public health related to spreading contagious viruses. This study is a retrospective data analysis which will include patients from a time period before the COVID-19 pandemic, March 2019 to March 2020, and during the pandemic, March 2020 to March 2021. Study protocol involves analyzing data from hospital records during each time period, and comparing the ratios of asymptomatic detection to symptomatic diagnosis temporally.