Bowel Screening

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  • The guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) has been replaced with Faecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) also known at 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 to detect and remove 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 it’s 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 people receive a pre-invitation letter and information leaflet explaining screening and its possible benefits, and 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. 
  • Please note that following a pause to the bowel scope screening programme in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the NHS is no longer offering bowel scope screening across England and instead is extending the FIT home testing kit programme from 2021. Bowel scope patients that did not have an appointment due to the pause will therefore be sent a one-off screening test kit in April 2021 to complete and return to the screening hub. Like bowel scope, a FIT kit can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, in people with no symptoms. It’s a simple way to find out if patients need further tests. Around two in every 100 people who return a kit may need further investigations such as a colonoscopy.

For more related information, see the following pages on this website: 


Eligibility criteria

Inclusions

NHS Bowel Screening Programme:

  • age 60-74: invitations 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 0800 707 60 60
  • there will be a phased introduction to lowering the screening age from 60 years old to 50 years old. See: Bowel screening to start at 50 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

How to refer

The following clinicians can refer to this service:

Self-referral

Invites (both the letters and screening kits) are sent from a central hub at St Mark’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.

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


t: 0800 707 60 60


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