Bowel Cancer Awareness Month
How you can raise awareness of bowel cancer screening:
- Over 60? (or in Scotland and over 50?), take the test when you receive it in the post.
- If you are younger, tell the people over 60 (or over 50 in Scotland) in your life, to take the test.
Why is screening so important
Screening can detect bowel cancer early before any symptoms appear, when it is easier to treat. It can also prevent bowel cancer from developing in the first place by picking up non-cancerous growths (polyps) which could become cancerous in the future.
Bowel cancer is the UK’s second biggest cancer killer but it is treatable and curable especially if diagnosed early. Nearly everyone diagnosed at the earliest stage will survive bowel cancer however, this drops significantly as the disease develops. Taking part in bowel cancer screening is the best way to get diagnosed early and early diagnosis saves lives.
How does screening work
If you’re registered with a GP and aged 60-74 (50-74 in Scotland), you will receive a free NHS bowel cancer screening test in the post every two years.
You have to collect three samples of your poo, over a maximum of two weeks (10 days in Scotland), and send it back in the hygienically-sealed freepost envelope provided. You carry out the simple test at home in private and it comes with clear step by step instructions. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer.
You usually get the results of your test in about two weeks.
Most people have a normal result. If this happens, you will receive a test again in two years but see your GP if you have any symptoms in the meantime.
If the results aren’t clear, you might be asked to do the test again.
If blood is found in your poo sample, you will be offered more tests to take a closer look at what might be causing this. This doesn’t mean you definitely have cancer as it could be as a result of a non-cancerous polyp or another health problem. But it is definitely worth investigating. If it is cancer, the earlier it is diagnosed the quicker it can be treated and the greater the chance of survival.
Whatever your age, if you have any symptoms you are worried about, speak to your GP.
If you have any questions or are over 75 and would like to request a kit, contact your local screening programme:
- England 0800 707 60 60
- Scotland 0800 0121 833
- Wales 0800 294 3370
- Northern Ireland 0800 015 2514
For more detailed information about screening visit our screening page
How you can get involved
Become a volunteer
We are always looking for enthusiastic people to help with our work. We have a range of volunteering opportunities for you to get involved with
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Campaign with us
You can become one of our campaign supporters all year round and help improve early diagnosis and access to best treatment and care for all those affected by bowel cancer. We’ll email you to update you on our campaigns and let you know how you can take action.
“The decision to complete the screening test was the best decision I have ever made in my life. Had I not taken that course of action, there is no doubt in my mind I would not be alive today. Just do it!” Craig