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Bowel cancer screening

Bowel cancer screening can help detect bowel cancer before symptoms have presented themselves, helping to ensure an early diagnosis.

Bowel cancer screening is a type of screening designed to detect and diagnose bowel cancer (also referred to as colon cancer). Diagnosing and treating bowel cancer in its early stages can help to increase a patient’s chances of recovery.

Why should I have a bowel cancer screen?

Bowel cancer screening can help detect bowel cancer before symptoms have presented themselves, helping to ensure an early diagnosis. Screening can even help prevent bowel cancer as it may detect small growths in the bowel called polyps. These polyps may eventually turn into cancer if they are not removed. So by having a bowel screen you may be able to detect polyps before cancer has developed.

What does the bowel cancer screening involve?

There are a number of screening options. These are reviewed on a patient-by-patient basis through a personal discussion with a specialist consultant. An example of the screening methods that can take place are: 

  • Stool Testing- a test which detects blood hidden in small samples of faeces (poo)
  • Colonoscopy - a long flexible tube with a light and tiny camera is inserted through your back passage and examines the lining of your bowel 
  • Virtual Colonoscopy- an investigative procedure which involves using a CT scanner to produce two and three dimensional images of the large bowel and rectum 
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy - a procedure using an endoscopy, which allows the consultant to see inside the rectum and up into the lower part of the bowel.

At what age should I have a bowel screening test?

If you are presenting symptoms, it doesn’t matter what age you are, you should go to your GP to discuss your symptoms. Your GP may arrange further investigation and referral onto a consultant bowel surgeon at BMI Healthcare. If you are not presenting symptoms, the age at which screening should start depends largely on family history and the number and age of affected relatives. 

The NHS offers bowel scope screening to all men and women aged 55. If you fall into this category you should participate. 

However if you are: 

  • not eligible but you are worried about bowel cancer 
  • have a family history of bowel cancer or polyps 
  • worried about any other abdominal or bowel problems 

Please contact our bowel cancer screening clinics, to book an appointment to discuss these issues or any related concerns. You will be seen promptly to discuss the best investigative option for you.

At BMI Healthcare we provide bowel cancer care, from screening to bowel cancer treatment to support you throughout your journey. 

Paying for your treatment

Please check whether your insurer covers the cost of bowel cancer screening before booking your appointment. If the costs are not covered by your insurer there are pay for yourself options available. All costs will be explained in writing.

For further information or to book a consultation or treatment, please get in touch with our cancer enquiries team: Call us on 0800 157 7747

Content reviewed: October 2014

Specialists offering Bowel cancer screening

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Miss Tayo Oke

Consultant General Surgeon

M.Med.Sci., FRCS(Gen), FRCS(Ed), MBBS.

The Blackheath Hospital

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Dr David Grahame Walker

Consultant Gastroenterologist

BSc(Hons), MBBS, MD(Res), FHEA, MRCP

Bath Clinic

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Dr Aathavan Loganayagam

Consultant Gastroenterologist


The Blackheath Hospital

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Mr Adnan Sheikh

Consultant Colorectal and General Surgeon

MBBS, MRCS(Eng), MD, FRCS(Gen Surg)

The Beardwood Hospital

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Dr Gareth Robert Davies

Consultant Gastroenterologist

BSc (Hons. 1st); MD; FRCP(Lond)

The Duchy Hospital

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Mr Abhiram Sharma

Consultant General & Colorectal Surgeon


The Alexandra Hospital

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