Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening is used to detect cancer in people who have no symptoms.

Screening helps to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when there is a much better chance of treating it successfully.

Screening may also find other changes in the bowel, such as polyps. Polyps are small growths that are not cancer but, if not removed, might turn into cancer over time. If polyps are found, they can be removed easily.

About BowelScreen - the national bowel screening programme

BowelScreen test kit

BowelScreen, the new national bowel screening programme, will send people in the 60 to 69 year old age group a letter asking them to take part in the bowel screening programme. This process has already begun but may take up to three years. Men and women who are called for screening and who are willing to take part in the screening programme are sent a home test kit called FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) in the post.

This test is carried out by the person in their own home. The easy to use test kit will include step-by-step instructions for completing the test and sending samples by Freepost to the laboratory where it will be tested for the presence of blood.

The test results are expected to be normal for more than 9 in 10 people and these people will be invited for routine screening again in two years.

About 5 in 100 people will receive an abnormal result and will need an additional test. They will be referred to the hospital for a screening colonoscopy to determine any abnormality in the bowel.

Over time the programme will be expanded until the full 55 to 74 age group is reached. To develop the capacity to cater for the full 55 to 74 age group, the programme will be implemented on a phased basis, starting with men and women aged 60 to 69.

Video: Watch a short video on how BowelScreen works

In the meantime if you have any concerns or symptoms at any time please see your GP.

For more information on the screening programme, you can contact BowelScreen directly at Freephone 1800 45 45 55 or visit the BowelScreen website.

Read more about bowel cancer including signs and symptoms, how to reduce your risk and check your bowel health using our interactive tool.