Bowel Cancer Screening

This bowel cancer screening guide is available in two versions on this page: text, and PDF download. Please choose the option you would like to read.

Bowel Cancer Screening Poster
Bowel Cancer Screening Leaflet

Bowel Cancer Screening Guide – Text Version

Make sure you do your bowel cancer screening

If you are sent a free NHS bowel cancer screening kit in the post make sure you do it.

The kit tests for early signs of bowel cancer. Your bowel is the part of the body that gets rid of food you do not need. This is called poo.

The test is easy to do. You just need to poo. You can ask someone you trust like a family member or carer to help.

When you have done the test, post the box back to us.

Your results will be checked and you will be told if you need to do anything else. Finding cancer early makes it easier to treat.

You can find out how to do the test in the easy read leaflet at

Bowel cancer screening An easy read guide

An easy read about the NHS bowel cancer screening test

You can call the freephone helpline for advice on 0800 707 60 60

What is in this Guide

  • Bowel cancer screening
  • Bowel cancer
  • Your choice
  • Doing the screening test
  • Screening test results
  • Keeping your bowel healthy
  • When you should go to your doctor
  • More information

Bowel cancer screening

This booklet tells you about the bowel cancer screening test.

After your 60th birthday you get a screening test kit to do at home.

Some people will get a screening test kit to do after their 50th birthday.

We will send you a box with:

  • a test kit
  • a letter
  • a freepost envelope

Bowel cancer

bowel-diagramSome people get a disease called bowel cancer.

This is a serious illness you can die from.

Bowel cancer screening helps find bowel cancer at an early stage.

Your bowel is inside your body.

It connects your stomach (tummy) to your bottom.

The bowel takes away waste your body does not need.

This is called poo.

Your choice

It is your choice to do the test or not.

You can talk to your family or carer. You can talk to a nurse or your doctor. Or you can call the freephone number on 0800 707 60 60

Good points

  • Doing the screening test can find early signs of bowel cancer.
  • If bowel cancer is found early you have a better chance of living.
  • You do the test at home.


  • The screening test will find most bowel cancers but some can be missed.

Doing the screening test

bowel-cancer-screening-kit-instructionsThe test looks for tiny amounts of blood in your poo.

You can do the test on your own or you can ask someone to help you.

To do the screening test, you need to collect a small amount of your poo.

  • To catch your poo you can use: toilet paper, a clean empty container
  • Write the date on the label of your test kit.
  • Take the kit into the bathroom.
  • Put toilet paper inside the container you are using to collect the poo.
  • Catch your poo before it goes in the toilet water.
  • Remove the container from the toilet.
  • Open the kit.
  • Wipe the stick through the poo.
  • Put the stick back into the kit. Click the lid closed.
  • Do not reopen the kit.
  • Throw the container into a bin.
  • Wash your hands with soap.
  • Tip the poo into the toilet.
  • Put your kit into the envelope.
  • Peel the tape off and stick the envelope down.
  • You do not need a stamp.
  • Put the envelope in a post box.

Screening test results

You should get a letter within 14 days with your results.

Little or no blood in poo: You do not need more tests.

Blood in poo: You may need more tests.

A doctor or nurse will talk to you about your results.

If you have any questions or problems please telephone: 0800 707 60 60.

Keeping your bowel healthy

Having a healthy bowel can help stop cancer.

Eat 5 pieces of fruit and vegetables every day.

Eat food high in fibre. This includes:

  • brown bread
  • brown rice
  • porridge

Keeping your bowel healthy

Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water every day.

Be a healthy weight.

Do more exercise.

Some foods are not good for your bowel if you eat a lot of them. They include:

  • ham
  • bacon
  • burgers
  • sausages
  • beef
  • pork
  • lamb

Drinking a lot of alcohol is bad for your bowel.

Smoking is bad for your bowel.

When you should go to your doctor

You should go to your doctor if:

  • you see blood in your poo
  • your poo is runny for at least 3 weeks and this is not normal for you
  • you stop having a poo and this is not normal for you
  • you start to get very bad tummy pains
  • you can feel lumps in your tummy
  • you lose weight quickly without trying to
  • you feel tired all the time and this is not normal for you

More information

If you have any questions or problems you can:

two people looking at bowel cancer screening kit