It is well reported that regular screening ensures that we can catch cancer in its early stages. This means that the cancer is usually smaller, less advanced and in consequence the treatment can be less invasive and more successful. The UK bowel screening service offers two types of bowel cancer screening. The first is the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test, and the second is bowel scope screening. You can read more about the bowel scope screening test here.
The FOB test is the established way to carry out bowel cancer screening. All men and women between the ages of 60 and 74 are invited to carry out this screening. It is a simple test that can be done at home, although to receive your test kit and your results you must be registered with a GP. The FOB test is simple to perform. You have to collect a small stool sample, following the instructions in your bowel cancer screening kit.
Once you have collected your sample, you will need to return it in the prepaid envelope enclosed. The results will take about two weeks to come through. The test looks for signs of blood in your stool, as this can be an early indication of cancer. In the majority of cases your results will be clear, and you can simply wait for two years until you receive your next test kit. For some people the results are unclear. This does not mean that you have cancer - there are a variety of reasons why your results may be unclear. If this happens you will be sent further testing kits to clarify your results.
2% of people will have abnormal results. Again this does not necessarily mean that you have cancer. You could be asked to retake the test or you will be referred for a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is essentially a camera test to look at the inside of your large bowel to see if there really is a cause for the positive test results. To find out more about colonoscopy visit the Birmingham Bowel Clinic website.
Occasionally results will be incorrect, giving either a false positive result, which can cause unnecessary anxiety and lead to further tests, or a false negative result, which means a cancer has been missed. It is very important to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer:
- Bleeding from the back passage or blood in your stool
- A change in normal bowel habits.
- A pain or lump in the abdomen.
- Losing weight.
- Excessive tiredness
Always remember that you know your body, and if you have any changes that you are worried about please consult your GP or seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Having a bowel cancer screening test may seem scary or embarrassing, but it is important, early detection really does save lives.
At the Birmingham Bowel Clinic they treat all of their clients with dignity and respect. If you have any concerns over your bowel cancer screening, or other bowel conditions, please contact them in confidence on 0845 2417762 or visit their website www.birminghambowelclinic.co.uk