What is bowel scope screening and am I eligible?
NHS bowel scope screening is a new test to help prevent bowel cancer. It does this by finding and removing any small growths, called polyps, in the bowel that could eventually turn into cancer.
The NHS offers bowel scope screening to all men and women aged 55.
For every 300 people screened, it stops two from getting bowel cancer and saves one life from bowel cancer.
How the programme works
Bowel scope screening uses a thin flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end to look at the large bowel.
It can find and remove polyps from the bowel. Polyps do not usually cause symptoms but some might turn into cancer if they are not removed. The technical term for bowel scope screening is flexible sigmoidoscopy screening (sometimes called ‘flexisig’).
What does bowel scope screening involve?
Bowel scope screening is done by a specially trained nurse or doctor at an NHS bowel cancer screening centre. In Lincolnshire the four main hospitals will be used.
You will be sent an invitation to attend your local hospital for the flexible sigmoidoscopy.
On acceptance of the invitation you will be sent an enema to use in advance of the appointment. An enema is a liquid used to clear the poo out of your large bowel.
The doctor or nurse will put the thin flexible tube into your anus and look inside your large bowel using the tiny camera. Bowel scope screening looks at the lower part of the large bowel because this is where most polyps are found.
When the nurse or doctor puts the tube into your bowel, they gently pump some carbon dioxide gas inside. This opens up the bowel so the nurse or doctor can see any polyps.
If they find any polyps, they usually remove them straightaway. This is usually done using a tiny wire loop passed through the tube. Sometimes the nurse or doctor takes a tiny piece of the bowel (a biopsy) to be looked at under a microscope. Neither removing a polyp nor having a biopsy are painful.
You will be given the results of your flexible sigmoidoscopy before you leave the screening centre, and if any samples were taken you will be contacted within the following two weeks by a member of the screening team to discuss these.
When will I be invited for bowel scope?
The staggered roll out of bowel scope screening in Lincolnshire commenced in September 2015 and should be completed by 2018. All GP practices are being included in the programme which started in Lincolnshire in September 2015.
You can find out if your GP practice is eligible and when they ‘go live’ by either contacting your GP practice, the Lincolnshire screening centre or the hub on the numbers below.
The bowel cancer screening helpline can be contacted on 0800 707 6060.
The screening centre can be contacted directly on 01522 597548.
For further information the following websites are available: