Detecting bowel cancer early saves lives

Date published: 24 April 2018

It’s important to be aware of the early signs and symptoms of bowel cancer. Early detection can make a real difference and increase chances of successful treatment. Screening for the disease is now available to everyone aged 60 to 74.

Symptoms of bowel cancer

Bowel cancer symptoms can include:

  • bleeding from the bottom, or blood in a bowel motion
  • a change in bowel habit lasting six weeks or more
  • unexplained weight loss
  • pain or swelling in the abdomen
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason

While in many cases there will be a simple explanation, if you are concerned that you have one or more of these symptoms, you should seek advice from your doctor at an early stage.

You can find out more about bowel cancer at the page below:

Bowel cancer screening kit

All men and women aged 60 to 74 years are invited for bowel cancer screening. A home screening test is posted to the address they have registered with their GP. It is therefore important that their GP has their most up-to-date address and correct date of birth.

The screening kit is a simple test to detect tiny amounts of blood in the bowel motions, which can be an early warning sign for bowel cancer before any other signs or symptoms. 

If any blood is found, it does not mean that the person has bowel cancer, but that they need further investigation.

Most people who are tested will have no blood in their bowel motions and will be asked back to repeat the screening test two years later. 

Being asked to use the home screening kit for bowel cancer can be daunting and embarrassing, as no one likes to talk about their bowel motions, and collecting a sample isn’t the most pleasant thing to do.

But, doing the screening test helps to find cancer at a very early stage before there are any symptoms.

If you get the screening test kit in the post, take action – it could save your life

Information video

An online video showing how to use the test kit and what happens when you take part in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme can be viewed at the following link:

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