Beating bowel cancer together

We launch new campaign to build confidence about colonoscopies

Tuesday 18 January 2022

We've launched a new campaign today (18 January 2022) after findings show that 59% of people would be worried if they had to undergo a colonoscopy. The Colonoscopy Confidence campaign encourages the public to attend their colonoscopy appointment if referred and not delay due to anxiety over the procedure.

Colonoscopies are very common – thousands are carried out across the UK every week. They give clinicians a close-up view of the inside of your bowel so they can clearly see if there's anything wrong. The procedure involves putting a long thin flexible tube with a camera on the end up your bottom to get a clear view inside your bowel. If you've been asked by your doctor to have a colonoscopy it's because they suspect something isn't quite right about your bowel, and they'd like a specialist to take a closer look.

During a colonoscopy, if the doctor sees anything that needs further investigation, photographs and samples (biopsies) can be taken and simple polyps, which could turn cancerous in the future, can be removed.

Dr Philippa Kaye, GP, author and bowel cancer patient, said: "As both a GP and someone who has had bowel cancer, I completely understand why the thought of having a colonoscopy may seem daunting and worrying but it’s vital to have this test if you’re referred. Most people who have a colonoscopy won’t have bowel cancer. But, if bowel cancer is detected at its earliest stage nearly everybody is treated successfully. That’s why if you have an appointment for a colonoscopy, it is really important that you attend – it could save your life."

Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK, comments: "I totally appreciate why some people worry about possible pain or embarrassment during a colonoscopy, but clinicians will go out of their way to make patients comfortable and at ease during this common diagnostic procedure.

"Often, hearing from others what a colonoscopy is really like can help take the worry out of an appointment. We've gathered top tips and real-life experiences from people who have had a colonoscopy, and I'm so grateful to everyone who has shared their advice as part of this campaign to help reassure others.

"Bowel cancer is the UK's second biggest cancer killer but it is treatable and curable if diagnosed early and that's why keeping a colonoscopy appointment is so vital."

The campaign includes a variety of information including a factsheet which explains what a colonoscopy is, what’s involved and suggests some questions you might want to ask as well as an animation and films of people talking about their experience of having a colonoscopy.

Find out more about the Colonoscopy Confidence campaign

Watch our short film about the Colonoscopy Confidence campaign

This video is also available to watch with Welsh, Urdu, Bengali, Chinese (Mandarin) and Arabic subtitles. You can switch language using the video settings directly on YouTube.

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