Colorectal cancer

In the UK, there are approximately 43,000 new cases of bowel cancer each year. It is the 4th most common form of cancer in both men and women in the UK. Overall, 1 in 15 men and 1 in 18 women will be diagnosed with bowel cancer in their lifetime.

Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be curative. Screening may also detect polyps in the colon, some of which can turn cancerous over time. Currently in the UK, screening for bowel cancer through the NHS is offered to people over the age of 50 years. The test used is the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) – this is a home screening kit which is used to detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool. If the test is positive, a colonoscopy test is then performed to look for polyps and/or bowel cancers.

Some private health screening checks will also offer you a FIT.



The so called ‘gold standard’ screening procedure for preventing colon cancer is a Colonoscopy.

In this test the bowels have to be cleared of all the faeces with strong laxatives prior to the test. A flexible camera (colonoscope) is then used to look around the whole of the large intestine (colon and rectum). The rationale for this examination is to remove any polyps found in the colon and rectum. This is not to say that all of these polyps would become cancerous, but some of them would have the potential to continue to grow and become cancerous over a number of years.

In the USA, the American Cancer Society Guidelines recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at the age of 45. People who are deemed to be at average risk are those people with no family history of colorectal cancer, or personal history of certain types of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease. There is increasing evidence that bowel cancer is increasing in the UK in people under the age of 50. In the UK, more than 2600 new cases are diagnosed each year in people under the age of 50.

If you would like to come and discuss the screening for bowel cancer in more detail, particularly with regards the use of colonoscopy, I would be very willing to discuss this with you.