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CRC Screening 2023: Eligibility, Procedure, Subsidy & FAQs

Colorectal cancer stands as the second most prevalent cancer in Hong Kong, with a recorded 2,298 fatalities in the year 2021. In response, the government introduced the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme in 2016. Since then, the programme has demonstrated promising results in mitigating the incidence of new cases, with a slight downward trend observed in 2018. Curious about the eligibility criteria and the screening process? Let's learn.
Author Bowtie Team
Date 2023-06-29
Updated on 2021-10-06
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Latest Figures on CRC Screening ProgrammeCRC Screening Programme ProceduresCRC Screening Programme EligibilityAnyone aged 50 or above is eligible: Programme Details by Stage3 Key Parts of CRC Screening Programme

Latest Figures on CRC Screening Programme

According to a press release on “Eligibility of Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme updated” issued by the government, since the program’s launch in 2016, over 348,000 eligible individuals have participated and undergone fecal immunochemical testing.

Furthermore, the government reported approximately 2,400 cases of confirmed colorectal cancer through the screening program, with preliminary analysis conducted on 1,700 cases. The results showed that about 57% of the cases belonged to the early-stage category with a higher cure rate.

CRC Screening Programme Procedures

  1. Register via eHealth: Submit registration application here.
  2. Find a primary care doctor participating in the programme: Get the list of doctors here or call 3565 6288. Look for signage outside clinics as well.
  3. Schedule an appointment with the primary care doctor:
    • Present Hong Kong ID card or exemption registration certificate on the day of the consultation.
    • The doctor will assess if the individual is suitable for the program.
    • Sign the consent form and officially register for the program.
    • Receive information and the fecal occult blood test collection kit.
  4. Collect a fecal sample at home.
  5. Submit the sample to the designated collection point.
  6. Wait for the doctor’s notification of the test results.
    1. If the test result is positive: Schedule another appointment with the doctor to understand the details and get referred for a colonoscopy.
    2. If the test result is negative: Continue monitoring for colorectal cancer symptoms and undergo testing every 2 years.

CRC Screening Programme Eligibility

  • #If the individual has been issued a Hong Kong identity card due to being granted entry or a stay permit, but this permit has expired or is no longer valid, they are not eligible
  • *Primary care doctors will assess whether potential participants are suitable for the programme.

Anyone aged 50 or above is eligible: Programme Details by Stage

The “Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme,” previously known as the “Pilot Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme,” is a government initiative that promotes and subsidizes eligible individuals for screening and surgery based on their age, aiming to help prevent cancer at an early stage.

StageAge RangeCommencement Date (Y/M/D)
1st Stage61 – 752018/8/6
2nd Stage56 – 752019/1/1
3rd Stage50 – 752020/1/1
4th Stage50 – 752021/1/1
5th Stage50 – 752022/1/1
Latest Stage50 – 752023/1/1

According to the Department of Health, most private doctors and private hospitals in Hong Kong provide fecal occult blood tests and colonoscopy services. Bowtie has compiled the following table to help you understand who is suitable for the program:

Suitable for Program (Must meet all 3 criteria)Not Suitable for Program (Meets only one of the criteria)
Aged 50 to 75 years✔️Individuals with colorectal cancer symptoms✘
Hold valid Hong Kong ID card or exemption registration certificate✔️Individuals with high-risk factors for colorectal cancer✘
Registered on the eHeatlh System✔️Individuals who have undergone a normal colonoscopy in the past 10 years✘

3 Key Parts of CRC Screening Programme

1. Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)

The purpose of this test is to identify individuals who have blood in their stool and then arrange for them to undergo a colonoscopy for a more accurate diagnosis of whether they have colorectal cancer.

Primary care doctors assess the eligibility of participants, provide information about colorectal cancer screening, and distribute participant information packets, including two FOBT kits and related materials. At this stage, the government covers the cost of laboratory tests and provides a subsidy of HK$280 for each medical consultation.

Participants are required to collect their own stool samples. The Department of Health provides simple instructions for this process.

CRC Screening Programme How-to Guide

2. Colonoscopy

If blood is detected in the participant’s stool sample, it does not necessarily indicate colorectal cancer as there could be other underlying conditions. The primary care doctor will arrange a second consultation to explain the test results and refer the participant to an appropriate specialist for a colonoscopy. The government subsidizes the consultation fee of HK$280.

When choosing to be referred to a registered colonoscopy doctor participating in the program for the “Standard Package of Colonoscopy Service” the government provides subsidies. If polyp removal is required, a fixed subsidy of HK$8,500 will be provided. If no polyp removal is needed, a fixed subsidy of HK$7,800 will be provided. You may need to pay additional fees not exceeding $1,000, depending on the chosen colonoscopy doctor. Typically, the waiting time for a colonoscopy is usually not more than 8 weeks.

If you prefer to undergo the examination earlier, you can go to private hospitals or private institutions, but you will need to bear the cost yourself. The voluntary medical insurance covers this procedure, and colonoscopy with polyp removal is considered a minor surgery. Under the VHIS Standard Plan, the maximum compensation limit for surgical procedures by a surgeon is HK$5,000.

Preparation for Colonoscopy

To ensure a smooth colonoscopy, you should provide your medical history and health conditions to the gastroenterologist, especially if you have diabetes, heart disease, or hypertension. If you have a pacemaker or are taking any long-term medications, particularly iron tablets, anti-platelet drugs, or anticoagulants, you should also inform the specialist.

You should strictly adhere to the following dietary instructions:

  • Follow a low-residue diet for the three days before the examination. On the day before the examination, consume only clear liquids.
  • Take the bowel cleansing solution as instructed.
  • Fast for 6 hours before the examination.
3. Polyp Removal

If polyps are discovered during the colonoscopy, the “Standard Package of Colonoscopy Service” subsidizes the cost of polyp removal surgery, histopathological examination, and reporting. You can click here for the service fees of the colonoscopy doctor for more information.

The “Standard Package of Colonoscopy Service” does not cover the following items:

  • Accommodation in private hospitals.
  • Anesthesia procedures or general anesthesia supervised by an anesthesiologist.
  • Repeat polyp removal if not completely removed during the entire colonoscopy.
  • Treatment for complications arising from the colonoscopy, such as bleeding, infection, bowel perforation, or severe reactions to sedation anesthesia.
  • Treatment for colorectal cancer or other conditions detected after the colonoscopy.

However, if you have purchased VHIS insurance, all the above situations will be covered within the scope of the insurance.

Where can you undergo the Colorectal Cancer Screening Programme? Bowtie & JP Health Centre is here to help you!

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