The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in England (NHS BCSP) began in July 2006. Men and Women between the ages of 60-69 are screened every two years.
People over the age of 70 can request a screening kit by calling a free phone helpline 0800 707 6060. Every two years thereafter further kits can be requested.
Why screen for Cancer?
Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16%.
To detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when treatment is likely to be more effective.
Around 98 in 100 people will receive a normal result and will then be returned to routine screening – an invitation for bowel cancer screening every 2 years if still within the eligible age range. Those over 70 must telephone the helpline (0800 707 6060) to request further kits.
Around 2 in 100 will receive an abnormal result. They will be referred for further investigation and usually offered a colonoscopy (a procedure which uses a long narrow telescope passed through the anus) to view the whole lining of the bowel.
Around 4 in 100 people may initially receive an unclear result which means that there was a slight suggestion of blood in the test sample. This could be caused by conditions other than canceer, such as haemorrhoids (piles). An unclear result does not mean that cancer is present, but that the FOB test will need to be repeated.
Most people with positive scsreening tests will be found NOT to have bowel cancer and go on to receive a normal result.
It is important to remember that an abnormal test indicates blood, not cancer, and can occur for a variety of reasons. It is important to be aware of the symptoms that could indicate bowel cancer and speak to your doctor without delay if you notice anything that is not normal to you.
Bowel Cancer UK urges anyone who is offered the screening to take up this simple test. It has been proved to save lines!