Bowel Cancer Screening

What is Bowel Cancer Screening?

  • Bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer.
  • It is available to everyone aged between 60 and 74 and is offered every 2 years*
  • From April 2021 the NHS in England will gradually be reducing the age range for bowel screening. This will be phased over the next 4 years to include people aged 50-59.
  • Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment has the best possible chance of working.
  • You use a home test kit, called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) to collect a small sample of poo and send it to a lab.

*People over the age of 74 can request a screening kit every 2 years by calling the free helpline on 0800 707 60606

How to use the screening kit

  • The screening kit used in England is the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit.
  • FIT looks for hidden blood in poo
  • Everyone who is eligible for bowel cancer screening is automatically sent out a screening kit every 2 years, so that the test can be completed in the privacy of your own home.
  • Using this kit you collect a small sample of poo on a small plastic stick and put into the sample bottle and post it to a lab for testing – instructions are including in the FIT kit.

You can also find instructions here:

Your results

Your results will be posted to you within 2 weeks of sending off your kit.

There are 2 types of result:

No further test needed –

  • This result means no blood was found in your poo sample, or only a tiny amount was found
  • You do not ned to do anything at this time. You’ll be invited to do another routine screening test in 2 years (if you are still under 75 by then)
  • This is not a guarantee that you do not have bowel cancer.
  • About 98 in 100 people do not need further tests

Further tests needed –

  • This result means blood was found in your poo sample
  • You do not necessarily have bowel cancer (the blood could be the result of something like piles), but you will be offered an appointment to talk about have another test call a colonoscopy to look for the cause
  • A colonoscopy is where a thin tube with a camera inside is passed into your bottom to look for signs of cancer.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

Most people with these symptoms don’t have bowel cancer. Other health problems can cause similar symptoms. But it is important that if you experience any of these symptoms you contact the surgery to speak to a GP – even if you have already done a screening kit.

Bowel cancer is often very treatable, but the earlier it is diagnosed the easier it is to treat.

If you have symptoms don’t be embarrassed and don’t ignore them.