It is a fact, after lung cancer, bowel cancer kills more people in Britain each year than any other form of cancer. That is – it kills more people than breast cancer; it kills more people than cancer of the prostate; and it kills more people than cervix cancer. Yet it is often forgotten and rarely talked about… Or to put it another way, 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime.
This blog will investigate how you can screen for bowel cancer, the types of screening, and when it is offered…
How can you screen for bowel cancer?
Like most screening procedures, the aim is to detect a disease before symptoms appear. For cancer, this might mean catching it at an earlier stage, when treatment offers a better chance of cure.
Most bowel cancers bleed to a greater or lesser extent. A special test (“faecal occult blood test”) that detects tiny amounts of blood in the bowel motion has been proven to detect cancers at an earlier stage.
Types of screening test…
In the UK, we follow two types of procedure:
- bowel scope screening (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/bowel-scope-screening/) – a test where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look for and remove any polyps inside your bowel – this procedure is only suitable for those with symptoms or with a strong family history.
- home testing kit (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/home-test/) (the FIT or FOB test) – a kit you use to collect small samples of your poo and post them to a laboratory so they can be checked for tiny amounts of blood (which could be caused by cancer)
When is it offered?
- If you’re 55, you’ll automatically be invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test, if it’s available in your area
- If you’re 60 to 74, you’ll automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years
- If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60
Regardless of your age, if you’re worried about a family history of bowel cancer or you have these symptoms (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer/symptoms/), get in touch with us and book an appointment.