If you have any questions about the bowel cancer screening programme, or want to know when you will be screened contact 0800 707 6060.
The South of Tyne Bowel Cancer Screening Programme invites men and women aged of 60 to 74 for free screening every two years. The programme screens people from the areas of Gateshead, Sunderland and South Tyneside, using a home test kit, the FIT test, which looks for hidden blood in stool samples.
Bowel cancer screening can help detect polyps. These are not cancers, but some may develop into cancers over time. They can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing. Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 per cent.
The screening can help in the identification and removal of bowel polyps that can develop into cancers over time. By removing polyps the risk of developing bowel cancer is reduced.
Screening is offered to all men and women who are aged 60 – 74 every two years. However as of autumn 2021 56 year olds were invited as part of an age extension programme that will eventually include 50 – 59 year olds. To receive an invitation, individuals need to be registered with a GP (General Practitioner) and the GP must have the current address.
The bowel cancer screening programme gets information from all GP’s telling them the age and address of individuals. The programme does not receive any medical details regarding individuals.
No, the invitation system has no medical information on individuals; we are not made aware of individuals who may be undergoing investigations or treatment for bowel conditions. If you are unsure if you should complete your FIT test kit please contact us 0800 707 6060.
Anyone under the age of 60 who is concerned about a symptom or family history should speak to the GP.
To take part in the screening programme your GP must have your correct address and date of birth. This information is used to invite individuals. You then receive an invitation and home screening kit through the post. If you are over 60 and have not received a home test kit, you can contact bowel screening by phoning the free phone no: 0800 707 6060.
The screening programme is designed to screen people with no symptoms. If you have symptoms such as a persistent change in bowel habit, pain in your abdomen, bleeding from the back passage, tiredness or weight loss, or if you are worried about your bowel health in any way, then you should not wait for screening but contact your GP.
No. The English NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is available only to people aged 60 years and over who are based in England. It cannot screen people who are below this age or who live elsewhere.If you are worried about symptoms such as a persistent change in bowel habit, pain in your abdomen, bleeding from the back passage, tiredness or weight loss, or are worried about your bowel health in any way, you should speak to your GP, who can arrange for referral to a specialist if necessary.
It’s more than two years since I was screened but I still haven’t received my next screening invitation.
No, the FIT test does not diagnose bowel cancer. However the results of the FIT test will show if there is blood in your sample and if you need a colonoscopy examination.
If you have haemorrhoids (piles) when you complete the kit, then there’s more chance that you will get an abnormal result. An abnormal result may be due to blood from your haemorrhoids or from another bowel condition. Anyone with an abnormal result is offered colonoscopy in order get a diagnosis.
Yes, you can bring a friend/family member or carer to support you at you appointments.
Please inform us prior to any appointments so we can arrange an interpreter to support you, ensure we have appropriate information (e.g. brail documents) or allocate additional time if needed. Call 0800 707 6060
The colon is part of the digestive system and stores waste material before passing it out through the rectum. People who do not have a functioning colon cannot do this and need to make continuous use of a pouch/colostomy bag. You may have to use a colostomy bag temporarily, e.g. following treatment. If so, you should be screened in the usual way, when invited, once it is removed. If, having read this, you’re still unsure whether you have a functioning colon you should check with your GP before accepting a screening invitation.
If the person you support has asked for help, understands the screening process (including the bowel examination), and does not have a medical condition that means they should not be screened, then the answer is yes. If the person doesn’t understand the screening process, and/or doesn’t have the capacity to consent to the process please see the below FAQ.
The recommendation is to discuss with their GP, as he/ she has access to their medical records and knowledge of their overall medical health. In general, however some people’s mental capacity varies, in which case the decision about screening should be delayed until the individual is more able to decide for him or herself. But if the person you care for is unable to make their own decisions about screening, then you, as their carer, should make what is called a ‘best interests’ decision on their behalf (just as you may be making other decisions about their care and treatment). You will need to weigh up the benefits of screening, the possible harms, and what you think the person him or herself would have wanted. Paid carers in particular should get advice from family members or friends about the person’s views before coming to a decision.
To find out more about the bowel cancer screening process call the freephone helpline for advice, on 0800 7076060.
For more information on making a best interests decision, you can read:
- Making decisions: A guide for family, friends and other unpaid carers from the Office of the Public Guardian and
- Making decisions: A guide for people who work in health and social care also provides useful information.
- To find out more about consenting to screening, please read our Consent to cancer screening guidance.