Bowel Screening

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The guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) has been replaced with Faecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT), also known as the FIT Kit.

FIT is a modern and effective screening test, aiming to detect asymptomatic individuals at an early stage (when treatment is more likely to be effective) and those with polyps.

Evidence suggests that using FIT in the bowel screening programme will increase uptake by 8-10%. Using the kit takes just a few minutes, and is an easy and effective way to screen for early bowel cancer. The initial sensitivity threshold for FIT is 120µg/g.

The FIT kit, along with instructions on how to use it at home, is sent about two weeks after eligible patients receive a pre-invitation letter and information leaflet explaining screening and its possible benefits, as well as the risks of bowel screening. Once used, the individual posts the kit in its prepaid packaging to a laboratory for processing. 

Results are sent out two weeks after the laboratory receives the completed kit.

About two in every 100 people have a result that has found an amount of blood in their sample above the screening range. These people will be offered further tests (usually a colonoscopy) to look for the cause of the blood. This does not mean they have cancer, but could identify other potential causes such as haemorrhoids or bowel polyps.

For more related information, see the following pages: 

Eligibility criteria


NHS Bowel Screening Programme:

  • aged 60-74: invitations are automatically sent every two years to men and women
  • age 75+: men and women over 75 can request a screening kit every two years by calling the free Bowel Screening Hub Helpline on 080 0707 6060
  • there will be a phased introduction to lowering the screening age from 60 years old to 50 years old.

How to refer


Invites (both the letters and screening kits) are sent from a central hub at St Mary’s Hospital. Individuals from Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey and Islington are sent to UCLH for further investigations. Patients need to have up to date addresses in GP records.

The Bowel Screening Hub Helpline can also be called if patients have missed their screening.

t: 080 0707 6060

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