Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms) when treatment is more likely to be effective.

The Bowel Scope Screening Programme

Men and women at age 55 (who are registered with a GP) are invited to take part in a one off test called a flexible sigmoidoscopy. Dependent on the result of this, you may be referred for further tests or recalled at age 60.

Presently Cheltenham General Hospital, Cirencester Hospital and Stroud General Hospital offer flexible sigmoidoscopy for local Bowel Scope patients. Rollout of this programme across the centres will take until the end of 2020.

The FOBt Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

The FOBt Bowel Cancer Screening Programme invites men and women between the ages of 60 and 74 (who are registered with a GP) to take part in bowel screening every two years.

You will be sent a faecal occult blood sampling kit and instructions about how to take a sample. You will also receive instructions about how to send the sample to a laboratory.

If there is a positive result, you will be referred for investigations at your local screening centre.

More information about the national screening programme

Where is the programme delivered?

Test kits are sent out from a laboratory (“hub”) in Guildford. If you have a positive test kit, you will be sent an appointment to be seen in clinic at your local hospital where you could be offered a colonoscopy if you wish to be tested further.

Gloucestershire Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is hosted at:

At the screening centre, we:

  • run screening nurse clinics, colonoscopy clinics and book and run follow-up clinics where appropriate
  • provide alternative investigations where colonoscopy is not appropriate
  • provide pathology services
  • refer those requiring treatment for cancer to their local colorectal multi-disciplinary team.

The hub in Guildford:

  • issues invitations and assembles and dispatches test kits
  • runs a laboratory to process test kits
  • provides a free telephone helpline for the public (0800 707 60 60)
  • dispatches test results

What happens next?

FOBt Programme

If you receive positive test results you will be invited to attend a nurse clinic appointment, within 14 days of positive result, for full discussion of the next steps in the process. This appointment will include an explanation of the investigative procedure to be undertaken, usually a colonoscopy, which will also be within 14 days of clinic appointment.

Cheltenham General Hospital and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital are accredited endoscopy units who provide colonoscopy for patients referred through the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. Nurse led clinics are also held at these sites.

Bowel scope Programme

Currently Cheltenham General Hospital, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Stroud General Hospital and Cirencester Hospitals undertake flexible sigmoidoscopy for Bowel Scope patients. Rollout of this programme across the centres will take until the end of 2020.

Who do I need to contact if I have questions?

Free national helpline – 0800 707 60 60

National NHS Bowel Cancer Screening website

For patients who have already started the pathway there is a dedicated helpline for questions relating to their endoscopic procedure or post procedure care:

  • 0300 422 2827 If your call is not answered please leave a message and someone will return your call

Calls will also be answered on the numbers below:

  • 0300 422 3264/2407/4305 (admin)
  • 0300 422 2845 (nurses)

Future screening developments

FIT kit - What Is It?

The new FIT (faecal immunochemical test) kit will begin its roll out soon and aims to replace the current FOBt kit.

The FIT kit is the new at home testing kit which will be sent out to people across England aged 60 to 74 years old. The FIT kit will only require one sample, as opposed to the 6 required by FOBt, and is more sensitive with the ability to detect more cancers.

Why the change?

The new FIT kit has many advantages over the current FOBt which is in circulation. It is simpler and more straightforward to use. Hopefully, this will make the population more inclined to take part in screening, which is currently below the government target. The FIT kit only detects human blood from the lower intestines. Medicines and food do not interfere with the test so it tends to be more accurate There also fewer false positive results (a result that indicates a condition is present when it is not).

Extending the Screening Age

In August 2018 the government announced a future plan for everyone in England from the age of 50 to receive the new (FIT) kit. The change will bring England into line with Scotland, where screening is already first offered at 50. The government said that extending the programme to those aged 50 in England would “not delay” the planned introduction of FIT, which it stated was a “priority”.

Meanwhile, one-off testing offered to men and women at 55 via flexible sigmoidoscopy will continue where it is currently in place until FIT is offered to the same age group, the government said.