What is the purpose of bowel cancer screening?
Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective.
About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.
It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year (Cancer Research UK, 2005. Cancerstats).
What is the Spire Roding Bowel Cancer Screening Programme?
The Spire Roding Hospital Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening to all men and women. You will receive you test in the post for you to complete in the comfort of your own home. The test is then returned to us in a free post envelope for screening.
What is bowel cancer?
Bowel cancer is also known as colon, rectal or colorectal cancer. The lining of the bowel is made of cells that are constantly being renewed. Sometimes these cells grow too quickly, forming a clump of cells known as a bowel polyp (sometimes known as anadenoma). Polyps are not bowel cancers (they are usually benign), but they can change into a malignant cancer over a number of years. A malignant cancer is when cancer cells have the ability to spread beyond the original site and into other parts of the body.
Who is at risk of developing bowel cancer?
- Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer.
- Your risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age. Eight out of 10 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60.
- People with a family history of bowel cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease.
- People who take little exercise, people who are overweight, and people who have a diet high in red meat and low in vegetables, fruits and fibre are all thought to have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer.
How does the screening test work?
The screening test detects tiny amounts of blood, which you cannot normally see, in your bowel motions. It is called the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test (‘occult blood’ means hidden blood).
The FOB test does not diagnose bowel cancer, but the results will tell you whether you need an examination of your bowel (a colonoscopy).
How is the screening (FOB) test carried out?
You carry out the FOB test in the privacy of your own home. The screening kit provides a simple way for you to collect small samples of your bowel motions. You wipe the samples on a special card, which you then send in a hygienically sealed Freepost envelope to a laboratory for testing. There are detailed instructions with each kit. You may think that doing the test sounds a bit embarrassing or unpleasant, but it will only take a few minutes and it is an effective way to detect bowel cancer early.
When do I get my results and what do they mean?
You should receive a results letter from the laboratory within two weeks of sending in your sample. There are three types of results you could receive.
A normal result means that blood was not found in your test sample. Most people (about 98 out of 100) will receive a normal result.
An unclear result means there was a slight suggestion of blood in your FOB test sample. This could have been caused by conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles) or stomach ulcers. Receiving an unclear result does not mean you have cancer, just that you need to repeat the FOB test.
An abnormal result shows that blood may have been found in your FOB test sample – it is not a diagnosis of cancer, but it does mean that you will be directed to your GP for a referral for a colonoscopy.