NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Last edited 09/2020 and last reviewed 09/2020

NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to all men and women aged 60 to 74

  • people in the invitation age range are automatically sent an invitation, then bowel screening kit, so they can do the test at home
  • after the first screening test, you will be sent another invitation and screening kit every two years until you reach 74
  • an abnormal result (positive test for haemoglobin in the stool sample) will mean the patient will be offered colonoscopy

Notes (2):

  • on 7 June 2016, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison announced that the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) was to replace the guaiac feacal occult blood test (gFOBt) as the test used for bowel screening:
    • FIT:
      • is easier to use and can be measured more reliably by machine than by the human eye
      • is sensitive to a much smaller amount of blood and can detect cancers more reliably and at an earlier stage
      • has increased sensitivity that enables detection of more pre-cancerours lesions
      • needs only a single faecal sample from a single bowel motion compared to 2 samples from 3 different motions for gFOBt

  • Proportion of target population screened (3):
    • an important objective of the BCSP is to maximise uptake in the invited population - i.e. proportion of the eligible population offered screening and have a result documented
    • the expected effectiveness of the bowel screening programme in reducing bowel cancer mortality requires a minimum uptake of 52%

    • Performance thresholds

      Acceptable level: >= 52.0%

      Achievable level: >= 60.0%