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University Hospitals Dorset NHS Foundation Trust

Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime. You may feel fit and well on the outside but you can’t always tell what’s happening on the inside.

Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's 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.

When is it offered?

NHS Bowel Cancer Screening is currently only offered to people aged 56 or over, as this is when you're more likely to get bowel cancer:

  • If you're 60 to 74, you'll automatically be sent a Home Test Kit to complete every 2 years.
  • As of April 2021 people aged 56 will receive a Home Test Kit in replacement to bowel scope. Age extension of the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in Dorset is planned to continue as per the table below.
Age 2021 2022 2023 2024
58 invite invite invite
56 invite invite invite invite
54 invite invite
52 invite
50 invite 

  • If you're 75 or over, you can request a home test kit every 2 years by calling the free Bowel Cancer Screening helpline on 0800 707 60 600

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

Always see a GP if you have symptoms which are worrying you, whatever your age – don't wait to have a screening test.

Risks of screening

No screening test is 100% reliable. There's a chance a cancer could be missed, meaning you might be falsely reassured.

There's also a small risk that the bowel screening test and some of the tests you might have if screening finds something unusual could damage your bowel, but this is rare.

There are no risks to your health from the home test kit.

Screening centres

The screening centre for the Dorset bowel cancer screening programme is based at Poole Hospital, with satellite screening sites at The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

The screening test

Home Test Kit/ Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – a kit you use to collect small samples of your poo and post them to a laboratory so they can be checked for tiny amounts of blood (which could be caused by cancer)

If this test find anything unusual, you might be asked to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.

How to perform home test kit

Please click here to view the NHS bowel cancer screening pages

Further information

For further information on bowel cancer and bowel cancer screening visit the NHS Choices website or Bowel Cancer UK

To contact the Dorset Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, telephone Ext 8751 (or call 03000 19 8751 from outside the hospital), or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

To talk to a Bowel Cancer Screening Programme advisor, telephone the Southern Hub on 0800 707 60 60 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Advice on maintaining a healthy bowel

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