Beating bowel cancer together

At-home test

If you have symptoms of bowel cancer, your GP will give you an at-home test. This is called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) and it tests for blood in your poo. On this page, we’ll explain how to do the test at home and what to expect after you’ve done it.  

When will I get an at-home test? 

If you have symptoms, ask your GP for an at-home test. They can give you a poo test, called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is easy to do at home. You may get the test kit at your appointment, or it might be sent to your home after your appointment. You’ll follow the instructions that come with the test to collect a small amount of poo. Your GP will tell you how to return the test. This is sent off to a lab, where they will test for blood in your poo. 

What are the symptoms of bowel cancer? 

Symptoms of bowel cancer can include: 

  • bleeding from your bottom 
  • blood in your poo 
  • a change in your pooing habits. You might be going more or less often, or have diarrhoea or constipation that might come and go 
  • losing weight but you’re not sure why 
  • feeling very tired all the time but you’re not sure why 
  • a pain or lump in your tummy 

Even if you have just one of these symptoms, ask your GP for an at-home test. Not everyone will have all the symptoms of bowel cancer, or they may get different symptoms at different times. We know it can sometimes be difficult to get a GP appointment, but it’s important to keep trying. 

How to do the at-home test 

Keep the test kit near the toilet so you remember to do it. 

Before you start: 

  1. Read the instructions included with your test kit 

  2. Check the label. Make sure that the label on the test has your name and date of birth on it. If not, write it on in pen. You may also be asked to write on the date that you do the test 

  3. Find something to catch your poo. You could use a clean, empty plastic container such as an ice cream or margarine tub. If you don’t have a container, you could cover your hand with toilet paper or a plastic bag to catch your poo 

In the bathroom: 

  1. Wash your hands and place the test kit on a clean surface 

  2. Take the lid off the test. The lid is attached to the stick that you will use to collect a small amount of poo 

  3. Collect your poo in the clean container or your covered hand. Don’t let your poo touch the water in the toilet 

  4. Scrape the stick along the poo until the grooves are full. Don’t add extra poo, only a small amount is needed 

  5. Put the lid back on the test and close it 

  6. Flush your poo down the toilet and dispose of any containers or bags that were used to collect your poo 

  7. Place your test into the envelope provided 

  8. Wash your hands 

Return your test as soon as possible after you’ve completed it. Your GP will tell you where to return the test.  

A photo of an example of an at-home test FIT kit including a test being placed into a plastic bag with the name John Smith written on it. Photo credit Mast Group Ltd.

Above: An example of a FIT kit. Depending on where you live, your test kit may look slightly different. Photo credit: Mast Group Ltd

After you return your test

Depending on the results, your GP may refer you for more tests at the hospital, like blood tests or a colonoscopy. This doesn't always mean you have cancer. The bleeding could be caused by a non-cancerous growth (polyp) or a different health problem. You will be offered more tests to find out what is causing the bleeding. Even if your test comes back clear, your GP might suggest another poo test or blood tests.  

If you continue to have symptoms, or your symptoms change, contact your GP. 

This information is for people with bowel cancer symptoms.  

FIT is also used as part of the bowel cancer screening programme. You can read more about this on our bowel cancer screening page.  

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