NHS campaign: Use your bowel cancer home testing kit


A new NHS campaign is urging people who are sent bowel cancer home testing kits to use and return them.

The national campaign aims to increase the uptake of the home testing kit to ensure more people are diagnosed with bowel cancer as early as possible. When bowel cancer is caught early, people are nine times more likely to survive.

NHS data shows that there has been an increase in the number of people participating in bowel screening (70.3%). However, around 30% of people are not returning their test kit.

Around half a million free Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) kits are sent by the NHS straight to people’s homes.

The FIT kits are able to detect blood in poo, even if it’s not visible to people, which supports early diagnosis of blood cancer.

Kits are sent to people aged 60 to 74 years old who are registered with a GP in England every two years, with the aim to start rolling out the test to people aged over 50 by 2025.

NHS Director of Vaccinations and Screening, Steve Russell, said: “Screening is one of the best ways to diagnose bowel cancer early, or in some cases prevent it from developing in the first place, so we want more people to do it; and stop this disease in its tracks.

“The FIT kit offers eligible people a chance to quickly and safely complete a test for bowel cancer at home; and ensure that more cases are detected earlier.

“If you’re sent the kit, help yourself by remembering to complete it. Put it by the loo. Don’t put it off.

“If you haven’t taken a test, but are experiencing bowel cancer symptoms, such as blood in your poo or severe stomach pain, no matter your age, you should speak to your GP as soon as possible.”

Bowel cancer if the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and more than 16,500 people die from it – more than 5 people per day. The chances of surviving bowel cancer are much higher when it is found early.

National Clinical Director for Cancer, Professor Peter Johnson, said “Thousands of people in England develop bowel cancer each year, but the chances of surviving it are very good when it is caught early, which is why the NHS is sending out millions of free bowel cancer screening kits for people to use in private, at home, which could potentially save their life.

“We have seen a fantastic response to our previous cancer awareness campaigns, with record levels of people coming forward for cancer checks, and more people starting cancer treatment than in previous years.

“I would urge everyone who is sent a kit to return their test as quickly as they can, because this can detect the early signs of bowel cancer and ensure that anyone affected can get treatment for the disease as soon as possible. Don’t die of embarrassment.”

Learn more about Bowel cancer testing on the NHS website here.