Find out more about bowel cancer at NHS Choices
Bowel Cancer Screening Services
Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK, and is a general term for cancer that begins in the large bowel. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60, and the bowel cancer screening programme (BCSP) helps to ensure that as many people as possible are screened for the condition before it becomes a problem. NHS Digital provides the bowel cancer screening services (BCSS) to help screening centres manage the process.
Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime.
Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time.
The screening programme
NHS bowel cancer screening is only offered to people aged 55 or over, as this is when you're more likely to get bowel cancer:
- if you're 55, you'll automatically be invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test, if it's available in your area
- if you're 60 to 74, you'll automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years
- if you're 75 or over, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60
- If you're too young for screening but are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, speak to your GP for advice.
Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bower cancer at any age – don't wait to have a screening test.
If you are a patient, find out more information about bowel cancer screening here.
Identifying eligible people
At NHS Digital, we manage the national lists of people who are eligible for bowel cancer screening, and ensure that these people receive their screening invitation or test kit.
Screening centres use our Bowel Cancer Screening Service (BCSS) to get invitations out at the right time, and so that noone is missed.
The service manages the sending out of invites and test kits, allows for the recording of results, and provides reports.