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Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer

Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime.

The symptoms of bowel cancer are:

  • bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • a change in your bowel habit that does not go back to normal
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your abdomen



Always see your GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age – do not wait to have a screening test.

Bowel cancer screening at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals

Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it is easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time.

NHS bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 56, 58 and 60 to 74 years.

Bowel cancer screening is being extended with the aim of including people from the age of 50.

If you are 75 or older, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.

If you are too young for NHS bowel cancer screening but are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, speak to your GP for advice.

You will be sent a home testing kit (FIT), which you use to collect a small sample of your poo.  You post the package to a laboratory where the sample is checked for tiny amounts of blood (which could be caused by cancer).

You are automatically invited to do a FIT every two years.

If the laboratory find blood in your poo, we will make you an appointment with a Specialist Screening Practitioner (SSP).  Face to face SSP appointments are held at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals.  If you would prefer to have a telephone or video appointment, you can request this.

Colonoscopies at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals

We may need to perform a colonoscopy.  The SSP will explain this to you at your appointment.

Colonoscopy tests are carried out in the endoscopy units:

  • Elmstead Day Unit, Colchester Hospital (at the back of the hospital)
  • Endoscopy unit, Ipswich Hospital (on the first floor in the South End of the building)

ESNEFT bowel cancer screening team

01206 742 076

National bowel screening helpline

0800 707 6060
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