The NHS bowel cancer screening kit can save your life.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK. However, the number of people dying has fallen in recent decades, with earlier diagnosis being the key. Yet still, the latest data shows that almost one third of people who were sent an NHS bowel cancer screening kit in England last year did not go on to complete it.
The NHS bowel cancer screening kit detects signs of cancer before you notice anything wrong. Detecting bowel cancer at the earliest stage makes you up to 9 times more likely to be successfully treated. So if you’re aged 60 to 74 (lowering to 50 by 2025), live in England and registered with a GP practice, you’ll be sent a kit in the post automatically, every two years.
The kit is quick to complete and can be done in the privacy of your own bathroom using the step-by-step instructions on the box. You only need to collect one tiny sample of poo using the plastic stick provided, pop it in the sample bottle and post it for free, to be tested. If something is found, you will be invited to have further tests, usually at a hospital.
The test works by checking for tiny traces of blood, which may not be visible to the naked eye. Blood in your poo is one of the signs of bowel cancer, but does not always mean cancer. Instead, it could be a sign of piles or polyps (growths in the bowel). Polyps are not cancer but could develop into cancer over time.
So if you’re sent the kit, help yourself by remembering to complete it. Put it by loo. Don’t put it off.