Bowel Cancer Test

In England, Wales, and Scotland national bowel cancer screening testing is offered every two years to those who are registered with a GP. In England and Wales, the invitation age range is currently 58 – 74 but it is gradually being extended down to 50 (which Scotland has already achieved.  In England, if you are older than 74, you can have a screening test but need to request it from your bowel cancer screening hub.


How do I get included in the bowel cancer screening programme?

If you are registered with a GP you will be automatically contacted by letter from the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme when you are 60 (or earlier if your local screening programme has introduced pre-60 screening invitations). The programme will send you an invitation letter which will be shortly followed by a home testing kit with instructions on how to use it. After returning the completed testing kit you will receive the result and be routinely contacted for repeat tests every two years.

I have moved and have been unable to register with a GP, can I still get on the programme?

Contact the National Bowel Cancer Screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 to tell them. You will need to give them your NHS number and new address and then they will contact you directly.

What does the test involve?

The kit you receive includes a small device for collecting and storing a sample of faecal (poo). When you are ready to pass a motion (i.e., need a poo!), take your kit to the bathroom, open the package content, read the instructions, and follow the diagrams. It is best if you have a clean, shallow container to collect your poo. Catch your poo in the container, remove the collecting stick from device and scrap the collection stick over your poo. Return the stick to the container and ensure the top is firmly closed. The kit has your personal barcoded label (to which you add the sample collection date) and package for returning your sample to the testing hub. Once you have sealed the package containing the device and sample, put it in a post box.

How will I find out if anything is wrong?

Within 2-3 weeks you will hear from your Screening Hub or your GP, most likely to tell you that your sample was clear. If traces of blood have been detected in your sample, you may be asked to carry out another test (which will be supplied) or more likely you will be referred to a screening centre to discuss whether a screening colonoscopy is necessary. There are several reasons for the presence of blood in your poo, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer, but does need to be investigated.

Is it possible to have further screening tests once I have reached age 75?

It is possible to have tests when older than 75, but you need to contact the bowel cancer screening helpline yourself and request a further test. In England the hub can be reached on 0800 707 60 60.



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