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Published: 02 April 2024

If you’re aged 59 to 69, it’s never too late to do your first BowelScreen test

For bowel cancer awareness month in April, we’re reassuring everyone aged 59 to 69 that it’s never too late to do your first bowel cancer screening test with BowelScreen.

If you’re doing your bowel screen test for the first time or have received a test kit before and didn’t get around to doing it, make this the month you do.

We know that 9 out of 10 people who do one bowel screening test go on to do the test again when invited. Doing the test every time you’re invited reduces your overall chance of developing bowel cancer in the future.

Why choose bowel screening?

Bowel screening can save lives.

  • It can prevent cancer from developing by finding and removing early signs of disease.
  • It can help to find bowel cancer at an early stage when it’s usually easier to treat.

Who is BowelScreen for?

If you’re aged 59 to 69, it’s for you.

  • Bowel screening is free.
  • It’s a simple, at-home test kit.
  • We’ll invite you to do the test every two years if you’re eligible.
  • It’s for people who do not have any symptoms of bowel cancer.

FIT - the BowelScreen test

The test we use for bowel cancer screening is called the faecal immunochemical test or ‘FIT’.

  • When you are invited and choose to take part in BowelScreen, we send you the test kit by post.
  • The kit comes in a small envelope that fits in most mailboxes.
  • It’s a simple test – you put a sample of your poo on a small stick and insert it into a tube.
  • You do it yourself in your own home.
  • Instructions are included with the kit which most people find easy to follow.
  • Once you do it you post the kit back for free to the laboratory we use for testing.
  • You’ll get your results by post within four weeks of sending the sample.

Your test results

In the lab, a machine looks for tiny traces of blood (often invisible to the eye) in your poo which could be a sign of a cancer that has yet to show any symptoms. Most people get a normal result.

  • If your test result is normal, we’ll send you your result and invite you to do the test again in two years.
  • If you have a certain amount of blood in your poo then your test will register as ‘not normal’.
  • If your result is not normal then we’ll refer you for a further test called a colonoscopy.

The benefits of a colonoscopy

A colonoscopy will help to rule out or confirm that you have a polyp (a small abnormal tissue growth). We know that most bowel cancers develop from polyps. Most polyps are removed during a colonoscopy. This is how we can prevent bowel cancer developing and reduce the chance that you will get bowel cancer in the future.

A colonoscopy can also help to find a cancer. Bowel cancer can be a treatable disease if found at an early stage before a person has any symptoms. Research tells us that cancers detected through bowel screening are often found at an earlier stage when they are easier to treat and more likely to be curable.

This is why we ask everyone who is eligible to choose bowel screening every time you’re invited.

Do many people get a positive result?

For every 1,000 people who do the bowel screen test, about 40 will need a colonoscopy. Of those who have a colonoscopy, about 2 will have a bowel cancer detected.

Know the symptoms of bowel cancer

Bowel screening is for people with no symptoms of bowel cancer. We know that screening will not pick up every sign that could develop into cancer and abnormal changes will not bleed all the time. Cancer can develop between screenings, so it’s important to know the symptoms of bowel cancer, and if you have any symptoms or concerns, go to your GP. Don’t wait for screening.

Choose screening and get your FIT kit

Uptake rates of bowel screening have been increasing every year. In our most recent research, 8 out of 10 people said that regular bowel screening is important. For most people, taking the FIT will be the only action needed.

Register now for your free BowelScreen FIT kit:

If you’re aged 59 to 69, it’s never too late to do your first BowelScreen test.