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Bowel cancer: Home test kit could save your life

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer diagnosed in the UK.  It affects both men and women, and the risk increases with age.  More than 9 in 10 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer in England are aged 55 or over.

If you’re aged 60-74 and registered with a GP in England, you’ll be sent a free NHS bowel cancer screening kit in the post, once every two years.  It is completely your choice whether you complete your bowel cancer screening kit or not, but Cancer Research UK recommends you do.

It's meant for people with no symptoms and looks for tiny amounts of blood in your poo that you may not be able to see.  The test may feel a little embarrassing for some, but it can be completed in the privacy of your own home.  Bowel cancer screening is a great way to detect cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat successfully.

If you are worried about symptoms such as a persistent change in your bowel habit, pain in your abdomen, bleeding from the back passage, tiredness or weight loss, or are worried about your bowel health in any way, you shouldn't wait for your bowel cancer screening test kit. You should speak to your GP, who can arrange for referral to a specialist if necessary.

​​​​​Around 300,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in England each year, but more than 4 in 10 cases could be prevented through things such as:

Not smoking

Smoking increases the risk of many cancers.  The best thing you can do for your health is quit.

Look after yourself

Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of some cancers.  Maintain a healthy weight and keep active.

Cut down on alcohol

Drinking alcohol is known to increase your risk of some cancers.  The more you drink, the greater your risk.

For further information, call the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Helpline on 0800 707 60 60 or visit