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Bowel Screening

What is Bowel Cancer Screening?

NHS bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer. It’s available to everyone aged 60 to 74 years. Each of the bowel cancer screening programmes in the UK use home tests called the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). FIT looks for hidden blood in poo. If you’re registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range, a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home.

Regular NHS bowel cancer screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer. Screening can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage, when it’s easier to treat.

How to get a home test kit?

Everyone aged 60 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.

The programme is expanding so that everyone aged 50 to 59 years will be eligible for screening. This is happening gradually over 4 years and started in April 2021 with 56 year olds. The programme has also started to include 58 year olds, so you may get a test before you’re 60.

If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

How to use the home test kit?

You collect a small sample of poo on a small plastic stick and put it into the sample bottle and post it to a lab for testing. There are instructions that come with the kit. Your test result should be posted to you within 2 weeks of sending off your kit. More instructions available here: Bowel cancer screening kit: how to use – GOV.UK (

    To support these conversations, read our two-page bowel cancer screening guide which includes: A preview of the NHSE campaign An overview of bowel cancer screening and what you need to know Ways to support people to make an informed choice around their participation in bowel cancer screening Key resources to support healthcare professionals and patients.

    Cancer Research UK It is important that we support people to make an informed choice around their participation in bowel screening by sharing information and resources which may aid their decision. Cancer Research UK