Bowel cancer screening

About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.

Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective.

It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.

Who is the screening for?

Bowel screening is offered to men and women aged 60 to 69 every two years. Those aged over the age of 70 can request screening by calling 0800 707 6060. If you have questions, concerns or would like to self-refer, please contact the NHS South East London Bowel Cancer Screening Service, which provides bowel screening for men and women registered with a doctor in Bexley on 020 8333 3038.


What does the test involve?

You will be sent a test kit to carry out at home and return by post. The screening  centre will then screen for hidden blood in stools which can indicate bowel cancer, although there may be a less serious cause of an abnormal result, such as haemorrhoids (piles) or a stomach ulcer. You will be sent a letter when your results have been processed. This will usually say your sample was normal.
If the result is unclear, you will be asked to complete another test kit. 

If your result is abnormal, you will be invited for further investigation called a colonoscopy. This is a procedure where a colonoscope (a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end) is passed into your rectum and guided around the large bowel, so that doctors can view your bowel lining. Only around two in every 100 people who are screened will have an abnormal result and be advised to consider a colonoscopy.