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Frequently asked questions on bowel cancer screening by NHS Choices
What should I do if my home testing kit doesn't arrive when expected?
If you think you should have received a screening invitation or home testing kit and it hasn't arrived, call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
If you've been screened before, the 2-year gap between invitations starts from when you got your last screening result. This could mean your next invitation is delayed by several months if you had further tests after your last screening.
Will my piles (haemorrhoids) affect the home testing kit?
You can still be screened if you have piles (haemorrhoids), although you're more likely to get an abnormal result.
An abnormal result may be caused by blood from your piles or it could be due to polyps or cancer. If blood is found in your poo sample, you'll be offered another test called a colonoscopy to find the cause.
Can I help someone I care for use the home testing kit?
If you care for someone who needs assistance using the home testing kit, you can help them if they understand the screening process and give you permission.
Speak to their GP for advice if they don't have the capacity to give their consent – for example, if they:
- don't understand the screening process
- are unable to make a decision about being screened
- are unable to communicate their wishes
Their GP will have access to the person's medical records and knowledge of their overall medical health. They can advise you about what may be in the person's best interests.
For more information on making a decision in someone's best interests, see Making decisions: a guide for family, friends and other unpaid carers (PDF, 547kb).
Should I use the home testing kit if I've had bowel surgery?
You should consider being screened as long as you have a working bowel.
Screening isn't helpful only if:
- you've had surgery to remove your bowel
- you have a stoma bag (colostomy bag) to collect your poo – if this is only temporary, it's a good idea to continue with screening once the bag is removed
If you've had bowel surgery and you're not sure if screening is suitable for you, check with your GP or call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
Can everybody have bowel scope screening at 55?
Some health problems mean that it might not be possible for you to have bowel scope screening. Call the bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 if you:
- have had all your large bowel removed or have a stoma bag to collect your poo
- are currently being treated for ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease in your large bowel
- are waiting for heart surgery or have had heart surgery in the past 3 months
- cannot walk more than 100 yards without resting because of a lung or heart problem
- think you may be too unwell to go for your appointment
Can I have screening for bowel cancer privately?
Bowel cancer screening is available from private healthcare providers but it's not the same as NHS screening.
The NHS programme cares for you through the whole screening process, including any further treatment and care you might need.
With private screening, the care you may need following screening may not be available from the provider.
For more information, see Thinking of having a private screening test? (PDF, 1.1Mb).