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About bowel cancer screening

What does the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme do?

There are two parts to the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme. For 60-75yrs olds, invitations are sent every 2yrs to take part. A test kit is sent to the home, which once completed, is sent to a central hub to be tested for any evidence of blood in the faeces. If blood is detected the patient is booked into a pre-assessment clinic to see a Specialist Screening Practitioner, who will fully assess the patient and book onto one of the colonoscopy lists at either, Good Hope or Solihull Hospital. The test is changing from the current Guaiaci kit (FOBt), this is done by collecting from three different samples, to a one off specimen using a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), and the exact date for this is awaited.

Bowel Scope Screening (BoSS) is currently being rolled out across the country. Every 55yr is offered a sigmoidoscopy, as research has shown this screening can reduce the incidence of bowel cancer by 33%, as two thirds of cancers and adenomas polyps are located in the rectum and sigmoid colon. It started at Good Hope Hospital in January 2017 and in Solihull in September 2017. Each GP surgery will be informed a couple of months before their patients are invited.

When was the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme set up?

In October 2004 the government announced the national roll out of Bowel Cancer Screening (Colorectal cancer) starting in April 2006. This was based on the success of the work done at pilot screening sites in England and Scotland. The rollout will be carried out over three years.

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme is nationally coordinated. It sets national standards which are monitored through a national quality assurance network. For England, there is a national coordination office, based in Sheffield

How does it work?

Every two years people in the above age group will automatically be sent an invitation, then a faecal occult blood test (FOBt) kit which they can do in their own homes. This kit looks for blood (which you may or may not be able to see) in your faeces (stools, poo).

Your GP provides your contact details, so it is important that he or she has your correct name and address. The FOBt kit will be returned to a screening laboratory for analysis and those that are abnormal (i.e. blood has been detected) will be offered a colonoscopy to identify the cause of the blood in the faeces.

Those with a normal FOBt will be offered a further FOBt at 2 yearly intervals.

Most people who participate in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme will not see a health professional.

They will have a normal FOBt result and will be invited to participate again in two years’ time.

How is the programme organised?

There are five Hubs across the UK, each inviting the defined population and sending out the FOBt kits. Attached to each of these Hubs there are twenty Screening Centres.

Heart of England NHS Trust is a screening centre where those people found to have an abnormal FOBt kit result will be referred. Heart of England Screening Centre runs screening clinic’s at each of the following hospitals:- Heartlands, Solihull and Good Hope. If you receive a positive kit result, you will be invited to attend a SSP (Specialist Screening Practitioner) clinic at your nearest hospital to discuss the test kit result and further investigation (Colonoscopy) of your bowel. SSP’s are specially trained to look after you during this time, booking any appointments you may require, being with you during investigations and following, until you are discharged.

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