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  NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme  
Last Updated April 2014

About Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective.

Bowel cancer screening can also detect polyps. These are not cancers, but may develop into cancers over time. They can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing

AGE RANGE :: 60 - 69 (74) years, male and female

NORMAL RESULT: Repeat in 2 years

UNCLEAR RESULT: Repeat test up to two more times

ABNORMAL RESULT: Appointment to discuss colonoscopy (About 2/100)

Patient Information Leaflet

Who is Tested?

All men and women aged 60-69 (extending to 74) years. Test kits sent every 2 years.

For patients over the invitation age range, they can ask for a screening kit every two years by calling the freephone number:

  • 0800 707 60 60

About two in every 100 people doing the test will have an abnormal result.


How Common is Bowel Cancer

Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer. Bowel cancer is the second most common cause of cancer deaths in the UK.

Your risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age. Eight out 10 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60. People with a family history of bowel cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease. People who take little exercise, people who are overweight, and people who have a diet high in red meat and low in vegetables, fruits and fibre are all thought to have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer.


What Does the Test Involve

The screening test detects tiny amounts of blood, which you cannot normally see, in your bowel motions. It is called the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test ('occult blood' means hidden blood).

Polyps and bowel cancers sometimes bleed, which is why we screen for blood in your bowel motions.

The FOB test does not diagnose bowel cancer, but the results will tell you whether you need an examination of your bowel (a colonoscopy).

You carry out the FOB test in the privacy of your own home. The screening kit provides a simple way for you to collect small samples of your bowel motions. You wipe the samples on a special card, which you then send in a hygienically sealed Freepost envelope to a laboratory for testing. There are detailed instructions with each kit. You may think that doing the test sounds a bit embarrassing or unpleasant, but it will only take a few minutes and it is an effective way to detect bowel cancer early.





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Last Update: 31 January 2008