Bowel Cancer Screening




New NHS campaign urges people to use their bowel cancer home testing kit

Image of a person having a concern

Millions of people in England who have been sent a lifesaving home testing kit that can detect early signs of bowel cancer are being encouraged to use it and return it, as part of a new, first-of-a-kind NHS campaign.

Launching this week across TV, radio, video on demand and social media, the NHS national campaign aims to increase uptake of the home testing kit to ensure more people are diagnosed with bowel cancer at the earliest stage, when they’re nine times more likely to survive. The campaign will highlight how quick and convenient it is to complete the test.


The latest data shows that almost one-third (30%) of people aren’t returning their test kit. Each month, the NHS posts out more than half a million free Faecal Immunochemical Test kits (FIT) to people to use in the privacy of their homes. The FIT kit detects small amounts of blood in poo - that would not be visible to people – before someone may notice anything is wrong.  People aged 60 to 74 years who are registered with a GP practice and live in England are automatically sent a FIT kit every two years. The plan is to lower the age to 50 by 2025.

Screening is vital in helping the NHS detect bowel cancer at the earliest stage, when it is more likely to be successfully treated.  NHS chiefs have urged people not to be “prudish about poo”, with people often reluctant to talk about it as a possible bowel cancer symptom due to embarrassment.  Screening is one of the best ways to diagnose bowel cancer early, or in some cases prevent it from developing in the first place.  If you haven’t taken a test, but are experiencing bowel cancer symptoms, such as blood in your poo or severe stomach pain, no matter your age, you should speak to your GP as soon as possible.

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and the second biggest cancer killer. The chances of surviving bowel cancer are much higher when it’s found at an early stage.

Bowel cancer is also called colorectal cancer and affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum. Most bowel cancers develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

People concerned that they may have missed their invitation or have lost or thrown away their kit can call the free bowel cancer screening helpline for advice on 0800 707 60 60.

Information on bowel cancer and the screening programme can be found below:

For information on Bowel Screening

Published: Feb 22, 2023