Testing for Bowel Cancer

NHS Screening

Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer and affects the large bowel and rectum. As it tends to emerge in older people, the NHS have a screening programme for people from 50 years old (it is being expanded so below 60 years of age you may not yet have been included) up to 75 years old. You can read about the NHS programme HERE.

About Screening

Screening is a quick and simple process you do at home. While messing about with your poo is not the most pleasant experience, the modern screening kits are very easy to use and the test only needs to be done once every two years.

I am not eligible for screening? What should I do?

While the screening programme is designed to catch the most likely candidates, bowel cancer can affect people at any age, above or below the screening age, so be mindful of the symptoms of bowel cancer if you have a change to your health.

If you are over 74, you can still request a screening, but you have to ring up and ask for it from the free bowel cancer screening help line (click the NHS link above).

What happens next?

Normally you will receive a letter from the NHS confirming that the results are negative, but rarely you will be called in for further investigation, potentially including a colonoscopy where your bowel is inspected for any signs of disease. A positive screening is not necessarily a confirmation of cancer; other issues, such as benign polyps, can cause positive tests, and often these issues can be quickly and painlessly dealt with during the review process.