Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel cancer screening is offered every 2 years to men and women aged 60 to 74.
People older than this can ask for a screening kit every 2 years by calling the free helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

An additional one-off test called bowel scope screening is being introduced in England for men and women in their 56th year.

In August 2018, ministers agreed that in the future bowel cancer screening in England will start at the age of 50. PHE and the NHS are looking at how this can be achieved.

Your GP will receive a copy of your results.
We will also be notified if you have not completed your kit and will send you a reminder to do this.

Bowel Cancer Screening Reminder Letter

Condition screened for

Bowel cancer is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Depending on where it starts, bowel cancer is sometimes called colon or rectal cancer. The NHS website has more information, including:

  • symptoms of bowel cancer
  • causes of bowel cancer
  • treatment for bowel cancer

Screening tests

Faecal immunochemical test

A new test kit called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) was introduced in England in June 2019. This kit is now sent with all invitations for bowel cancer screening.

People eligible for bowel cancer screening get an invitation letter, along with an information leaflet explaining screening and its possible benefits and risks.

About a week later, the programme sends a FIT kit with instructions on how to use it at home. Results are sent out 2 weeks after the laboratory receives the completed kit.

The screening programme offers individuals with an abnormal screening result a colonoscopy.

The quality assurance guidelines for colonoscopy provide guidance on standards and performance indicators in colonoscopy.

Bowel scope test

Bowel scope screening (also called a flexible sigmoidoscopy or ‘flexisig’) is an additional test for people in their 56th year.

Bowel scope screening is being introduced by the NHS, but is not yet available everywhere. Bowel scope standard operating procedures offer guidance for providers of bowel scope screening.