Bowel screening helps to spot bowel cancer early, before you have symptoms, and can even prevent you getting bowel cancer in the first place.
Screening looks for early signs of cancer in people who do not have symptoms. If you have any of the possible symptoms of bowel cancer see your GP straight away. Don't wait for a screening appointment.
The risk of bowel cancer, like most other cancers, increases with age. If you’re aged 60-74, look out for your bowel screening kit in the post. If you are aged 75 and over, or haven’t received a kit in the last two years, call 0800 707 6060 to request one. Sending in samples could save your life.
Regular bowel screening has been shown to increase the chances of surviving bowel cancer. The programme is predicted to save 2000 lives a year in the UK.
Bowel screening helps to spot cancer early. It can even prevent it starting in the first place. This is because it can help to find little growths called polyps, which could develop into cancer. These can be removed easily to reduce the risk of bowel cancer developing.
If you’re aged 60-74, look out for your bowel screening kit in the post. This is an easy way to collect samples of your poo for testing. Wipe the small samples on the special card provided in the privacy of your own toilet or bathroom, and send the kit to the lab in the hygienically sealed freepost envelope. The samples will then be tested for hidden traces of blood which, because polyps and bowel cancers sometimes bleed, could be a sign of bowel cancer or potential bowel cancer.
You can find out more details about what’s involved from the NHS bowel screening video. Please note that this was made before the age range for being sent screening kits routinely was extended to 74.
Bowel screening is for people who haven’t got symptoms; if you have symptoms you’re worried about, it’s important to see your GP straight away.
No. The test does not diagnose bowel cancer, but the results will show whether you need an examination of your bowel (a colonoscopy).
You should receive a results letter from the laboratory within two weeks of sending in your sample.
There are three types of results you could receive.
About two in every 100 people doing the test will have an abnormal result. Sometimes, someone with an abnormal result will have repeated the test due to a previous unclear result. If you receive an abnormal result, you will be offered an appointment with a specialist screening practitioner at a local screening centre, to discuss having a more detailed examination of your bowel (a colonoscopy), to see whether or not there is a problem that may need treatment.
Bowel cancer screening is a reliable test, but like all screening tests, it is not 100% reliable.
There is a chance that a cancer can be missed if it was not bleeding when the screening test was taken.
Bowel cancer may also start to develop in the two years between screening tests, which is why it is always important to be aware of and watchful for the symptoms of bowel cancer.
If you’re aged 75 and over, call 0800 707 6060 to request a kit. Sending in samples could save your life.
Call 0800 707 6060 to request a kit. Sending in samples could save your life.
Further information on bowel screening is available from the NHS Bowel Screening Programme.