Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. If it’s detected at an early stage, before symptoms appear, it’s easier to treat and you are more likely to survive.
All men and women in Cornwall between the ages of 60 and 74 are invited for screening every two years. People over age 74 can also request a screening kit from the programme hub on the freephone number below.
What’s involved in screening?
The testing is carried out at home using a faecal occult blood (FOB) test. If you’re between 60 and 74 and registered with a GP, you will be sent a home test kit in the post, with full instructions that you can use to collect a tiny stool sample. You then send this back to the screening department in a hygienically sealed freepost envelope.
The test kit is used to detect tiny traces of blood that are invisible to the naked eye and will let you know whether you need to come in for further investigations.
Receiving your test results
You’ll usually get your results within two weeks of returning your sample.
There are three types of results. Most people (98 in 100) will receive a normal result. Sometimes we get an unclear result and we’ll ask you to take the test again.
If you receive an abnormal result it means we may have found blood in your sample. This is not a cancer diagnosis, the abnormal result may have been caused by bleeding from bowel polyps or other conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles). We will invite you in for a colonoscopy so that we can investigate sooner.
If you have an abnormal FOB test result, we’ll offer you an appointment with a specialist screening practitioner to discuss having a colonoscopy. During a colonoscopy, we examine the lining of the bowel wall using a thin flexible tube, called a colonoscope, passed into the rectum (back passage) whilst you’re under sedation. At your appointment we’ll fully explain the procedure to you, take a full medical history and assess your fitness for a colonoscopy. If you decide to go ahead with the colonoscopy, we’ll book you in for an appointment.
A colonoscopy is the most effective way to diagnose bowel cancer and treatments are more likely to be effective if bowel cancer is detected early. A colonoscopy can also remove any polyps we find, and prevent cancer developing in the future.
After your colonoscopy, we will send you a letter with your results, or give you the option to come in for a follow up appointment to discuss your results.
Contacts and further information
Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Hub Freephone
0800 707 60 60
Bowel Cancer Screening department at Royal Cornwall Hospital
Click Link: Bowel Cancer UK
Learning Disability Patients
Healthcare Screening Liaison Nurses
There are two Screening Liaison Nurses who work with people with a learning difficulty to ensure they understand the purpose and benefit of routine screening appointments. They work closely with GPs and other healthcare staff to support people with a learning disability when they are asked to attend a screening appointment for breast, cervical, bowel, abdominal aortic aneurysm and retinopathy screening. If you have a learning disability or know someone who does who might have a screening appointment coming up or could be due for one you can contact them for advice.
Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm