Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening is a national screening programme which is available for people living in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Screening starts from the age of 60 and you will be invited to take part every 2 years up until you reach 75. People older than this can ask for a screening kit every 2 years by calling the Freephone number 0800 707 60 60.

Bowel cancer screening can detect bowel cancer at its earliest stage, when there is a 9 in 10 (90%) chance of curing it.

Bowel cancer screening can prevent some bowel cancers from developing by detecting and removing polyps.
With regular screening, the number of people who die from bowel cancer is reduced by 16%

Each of the screening programmes in the UK use home tests called FIT and this looks for hidden blood in poo.

If you are registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range, a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home.

If your test is positive you will be offered a colonoscopy by a dedicated bowel cancer screening team. The colonoscopy is a test that uses a narrow, flexible, telescopic camera called a colonoscope to look at the lining of your large bowel and discover the reason for the blood in your poo. The colonoscopy test will take part in the Gemini Endoscopy Unit at the North Devon District Hospital.

Bowel scope screening is a new part of the bowel cancer screening programme that is currently being rolled out. It is a one off test for people aged 55 and is used to examine the lower part of the bowel. Bowel scope screening can help detect bowel polyps and prevent some bowel cancers. It can also help detect bowel cancers at a very early stage.

Before bowel scope screening, you will get a letter with an enema and instructions for using it. The enema clears out the lower part of the bowel, which makes it easier for the nurse or doctor to see inside the bowel.

Bowel scope screening uses a bendy tube with a light and camera on the end (sigmoidoscope) to see inside the bowel. It is usually painless or mildly uncomfortable. The doctor or nurse will remove any polyps they find or take biopsies of abnormal areas. You can go home after the test is over.

  • About 95 out of 100 people (95%) have a normal result from the test
  • Around 5 out of 100 people screened (about 5%) have polyps
  • About 1 in 300 people who have Bowel Scope Screening are found to have cancer.

Last updated: August 13, 2019