How can you get screened for bowel cancer?

With regular screening, 25% fewer people die from bowel cancer. How can you get screened? What are the different types of test available and how do they work? In the final blog in this series for Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, we explore how bowel cancer screening works and what to expect.

What bowel cancer screening tests are available?

There are three types of bowel cancer screening tests: Faecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT), Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) tests and bowel scope screening. The first two tests look for blood in the poo. If no blood is found, you do not need to do anything until your next bowel cancer screening test. If blood is found in your poo sample, this does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer but you may need further tests to determine the cause. Remember that, regardless of your results, it is important to speak to your GP if you develop symptoms of bowel cancer at any time.

Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

The Faecal immunochemical test (FIT) is the most commonly used bowel cancer screening test. It is a home test kit that detects human blood in poo. It contains a stick for collecting a small poo sample which can be placed in a tube and posted to the laboratory for analysis.

Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test

The faecal occult blood (FOB) test is another type of home test kit that checks for tiny traces of blood in the poo. It contains cardboard sticks for collecting small poo samples over several days - these can be sent to the laboratory for testing.

Bowel Scope Screening

Bowel scope screening uses a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera to look at the inside of your large bowel. The test looks for polyps, growths that can form in the lower bowel and which can develop into cancer - these are usually removed straight away.

The NHS has a bowel cancer screening programme which invites anyone aged 60-74 to do a home screening test, most commonly a FIT test, every two years. In some regions, people over the age of 55 are invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test.

If you are worried about bowel cancer and want to get tested sooner, Check4Cancer offers BowelCheck, an affordable private bowel cancer screening test for anyone aged 45+ that can be carried out in the privacy and comfort of your own home. BowelCheck provides additional information and guidance as well as the at-home test kit, including:

  1. Information on bowel cancer
  2. An online bowel cancer risk assessment questionnaire
  3. An easy to use, sterile collection quantitative FIT test kit posted to your home containing step by step instructions. Once you have completed the BowelCheck test you simply return it in the pre-paid envelope to our laboratory where it will undergo analysis. You will receive your results within five days.

Read more about BowelCheck here.

Bowel Cancer Awareness month is almost over. We hope that by raising awareness, we can help more people get tested and diagnosed earlier. Read more about Check4Cancer’s leading early cancer detection and cancer prevention services here.