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Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer in the UK and is treatable especially if diagnosed early. When diagnosed at its earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 (92%) people with bowel cancer will survive their disease for five years or more, compared with 1 in 10 (10%) people when the disease is diagnosed at the latest stage.

It’s more common in older people, but adults of any age can develop bowel cancer.

In England, Wales & Northern Ireland people aged 60-74 should be automatically invited to take part in bowel screening every two years. But most people with bowel cancer are diagnosed outside of cancer screening, often as a result of a referral from their GP or following an emergency presentation.

Bowel Cancer Screening (Urdu)
Bowel Cancer Screening (Hindi)
Bowel Cancer Screening (Farsi)
Bowel Cancer Screening (Arabic)
Bowel Cancer Screening (Cantonese)

Bowel screening aims to find cancer early or to find changes in your bowel that could lead to cancer.

The screening programmes send a bowel cancer testing kit every 2 years to people who can take part. You need to be registered with a GP to receive your screening invitations. The test is called FIT – Faecal Immunochemical Test. It looks for tiny traces of blood. You do the test at home. The kit contains instructions of what to do including a prepaid envelope to send the sample to the hospital.

You should get the results within a few weeks. The letter will tell you what you need to do next. There are benefits and risk.

How to do the FIT?

Tips for collecting your sample

You don’t need to respond to your screening invitation to take part. You will automatically be sent a testing kit (about 2 weeks later). You do the test in your own home. The test is clean and simple. You only need to collect one sample of poo.

In the envelope you receive, there is:

  • a detailed leaflet with instructions on how to do the test
  • a tube with a stick in it to collect your sample
  • prepaid specially designed (hygienic) envelope for you to send it back

The easiest way to collect the sample is to use an old plastic container, line it with toilet paper and pop it in the toilet. And then have a poo.

Once you have collected your poo:

  • dip the stick from the testing kit in the poo
  • make sure the end is covered with poo
  • put the stick back in the tube and twist it shut
  • write the date on the side of the tube
  • you may need to put a sticker from the letter on the side of the tube marked with + (this is only for people in Scotland)
  • put the tube into the prepaid envelope and post it