18 July 2019
About Screening

What does the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme do?

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme provides free bowel screening every two years for all men and women aged between 60 and 69 years. This age is due to be extended in April 2010 to include all those aged between 70 and 75 years.

Because the programme is a rolling one, invites in this area are sent out to people on their ‘odd birthday', i.e. 61yrs, 63yrs etc. This is to ensure no one in the 69 year old age group is missed. Anyone over the current age limit of 69 years who would like to be screened, are able to opt in by phoning the free Helpline number given throughout this website. (0800 707 60 60)

When was the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme set up?

In October 2004 the government announced the national roll out of Bowel Cancer Screening (Colorectal cancer) starting in April 2006. This was based on the success of the work done at pilot screening sites in England and Scotland. The rollout will be carried out over three years.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is nationally coordinated. It sets national standards which are monitored through a national quality assurance network. For England, there is a national coordination office, based in Sheffield.

How does it work?

Every two years people in the above age group will automatically be sent an invitation, then a faecal occult blood test (FOBt) kit which they can do in their own homes. This kit looks for blood (which you may or may not be able to see) in your faeces (stools, poo).

Your GP provides your contact details, so it is important that he or she has your correct name and address. The FOBt kit will be returned to a screening laboratory for analysis and those that are abnormal (i.e. blood has been detected) will be offered a colonoscopy to identify the cause of the blood in the faeces.

Those with a normal FOBt will be offered a further FOBt at 2 yearly intervals.

Most people who participate in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme will not see a health professional.

They will have a normal FOBt result and will be invited to participate again in two years' time.

How is the programme organised?

There are five Hubs across the UK, each inviting the defined population and sending out the FOBt kits. Attached to each of these Hubs there are twenty Screening Centres.

Heart of England NHS Trust is a screening centre where those people found to have an abnormal FOBt kit result will be referred. Heart of England Screening Centre runs screening clinic's at each of the following hospitals:- Heartlands, Solihull and Good Hope. If you receive a positive kit result, you will be invited to attend a SSP (Specialist Screening Practitioner) clinic at your nearest hospital to discuss the test kit result and further investigation (Colonoscopy) of your bowel. SSP's are specially trained to look after you during this time, booking any appointments you may require, being with you during investigations and following, until you are discharged.