Bowel Cancer Screening

Health Screening Prices

Is Bowel Cancer Curable?

Bowel cancer can be cured completely when caught early. The cancer usually develops from a small polyp or a protrusion in the bowel usually the size of a small pea. Polyps are benign structures; in other words they are not cancers. In the majority of patients, polyps lie in the bowel quietly for years without causing any symptoms. During this time they grow slowly and then turn into cancers.

Patients with polyps and early cancers are often unaware of them as they do not feel any warning signs.

Can Polyps and early Cancers be detected?

Yes. There are several tests that have been devised to identify and check patients for these abnormalities. These are called screening tests.

What are screening tests?

These tests have been designed so that they can be used in patients with minimal discomfort and inconvenience. There are two tests currently available.

  • Haemoccult test: This test relies on detection of "occult" (not seen by the naked eye) blood in the stools.
  • Colonoscopy: This test involves inserting a camera to view the inside of the bowel under sedation.

Who should be screened?

Certain risk factors are known to increase a person's chances of developing bowel cancer.

  • Age: This type of cancer is seen more often in people above the age of 40.
  • Family History: A person with relatives affected by colonic polyps or colorectal cancer has a much greater chance of developing cancer.
  • Life style: For reasons that are not fully understood, people who live in urban, industrialised areas seem to have more bowel cancer.
  • Diet: The food people eat may have a strong effect on the chance of getting bowel cancer. Diets high in fat have been linked to this disease.

Which test will I have?

Usually, you start with the £50 haemoccult stool test. If this is positive, colonoscopy will be recommended.

Do I have to be in Hospital for the tests?

For the haemoccult stool test you do not have to be in hospital. Simply follow the clear instructions on the packet and return in the prepaid envelope provided. As for colonoscopy, this requires half a day in hospital after which you will be able to go home.

When do I get the result?

The result of the stool test will be posted to you and a copy sent to your general practitioner. If it is positive, your doctor will decide whether to refer you to our consultant colorectal specialists or to a consultant of his/her choice to carry out the colonoscopy. You will be able to know the result of the colonoscopy on the same day.

If the test is clear, do I need further tests?

You will be advised of this at the time of posting the result of the stool test or after the colonoscopy.

Screening for Bowel Cancer

Bowel cancer - the problem

Bowel cancer or colorectal cancer is the second commonest cancer in England and Wales. Approximately 34,000 patients develop the disease and nearly half die each year. Bowel symptoms such as:

  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Blood in or on the stool
  • Stools that are narrower than usual
  • General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness, cramps)
  • A feeling that the bowel does not empty properly
  • Loss of weight with no known cause
  • Constant tiredness

may be warning signs of a possible problem in the bowel. These symptoms can be caused by a number of conditions - such as flu, inflammation but also can be caused by cancer. Any persistence of these symptoms should be reported to your doctor without delay so that appropriate investigations are performed.

For further information contact

or telephone 020 8337 6691 and ask for the Pathology dept.

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