Bowel cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer. The Bowel
Screening programme can detect polyps, which may develop into
cancer in the future. The early detection and treatment (if
necessary) of polyps, can prevent Bowel Cancer from developing.
If you receive a GHA Bowel Screening test kit, it is important to participate. Screening is offered to all men and women aged 69 to 74 years.
We understand that you may have some queries about the Bowel Screening Programme and be hesitant to ask. This test could potentially save your life so we hope any concerns, which maybe preventing you from taking part, are covered in the Q & A below. If you would like to know more about the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, we are always happy to help, contact us on 20007025.
I have received a test-kit over the post. Why should I take this test if I feel fine?
Symptoms of cancer usually appear when it has grown to an advanced stage, by which time treatment may not be possible. By performing this test now, you could detect cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to be effective. Another reason is that this test may also identify polyps, which are tumours that could turn into future cancer. In this way, you can prevent cancer before it even forms.
Is cancer going to be found if I take this test?
The most likely outcome (99%) is that the test comes back as Negative. When the result comes back as Positive, this does not mean cancer. In the majority of these cases polyps or other diseases are the cause. Only a very small number of people (one in 500 tests) are diagnosed with cancer.
How much sample do I have to collect?
Cover the grooves on the tip of the applicator stick with poo; this is enough to obtain a result. Collecting too much poo could result in the sample being rejected.
Do I have to fill all samples or could you make do with just the single sample?
The test requires 3 samples on 3 separate days. Without this, we cannot be certain of the result.
How long do I have to hand in my samples?
Always check the Expiry Date on the back of the tubes (e.g. 11474/2022-07-31) before performing the test. Usually, there will be several months to go, however we would urge you to use the kit as soon as possible. If the test-kit has expired, you should contact the Screening Office for a replacement test-kit.
I suffer from constipation and would not be able to collect all 3 samples within 14 days. What should I do?
It is important to deliver the samples quickly. Collect the 3 samples on 3 separate days and deliver them individually to the Pathology Department within a few days after collection. Keep the samples refrigerated while awaiting delivery.
I don’t like to place stool samples in the fridge, is there an alternative?
The tubes are well sealed and safe. However, you could also take each sample to the Pathology Department on the same day that you collect it, provided you do so within four hours. The Pathology Department is open for collection between 10:00Hrs to 15:00Hrs Monday to Friday.
I have been told not to perform the test if I suffer from haemorrhoids (piles) or take anti-inflammatory medication. Should I follow that advice?
You should take the test even if you suffer from haemorrhoids or take prescription medicines. Cancer or other diseases may still exist alongside haemorrhoids or while taking medication. If you suffer from bleeding haemorrhoids wait until the flare-up subsides before carrying out the test.
I have previously been treated for bowel cancer. Do I have to take this test?
That depends upon the treatment you received. If only a part of your bowel was surgically removed, you could still develop bowel cancer in the remaining part. If this is your case then you should continue taking the test. If the whole of your large bowel was removed, you may not need further testing. If this is your case, please ask your doctor to confirm this in writing to us and we will stop sending you test-kits.
I’am already receiving treatment for another cancer, so why should I take this test?
Two cancers can co-exist and different cancers need different treatments. Treatment for another cancer does not confer protection against bowel cancer. If you are currently undergoing cancer treatment, please perform the test after completing your treatment cycle.
Can my husband / wife / friend use my test-kit instead of me?
Each test-kit is personalised for the person to whom it is addressed. No one else should use it.
I’m over the age of 75 and I have not yet received a test-kit.
The Programme only invites persons between 60 – 74 years of age. However, if you are over the age of 75 you can still ask to be screened. Please contact the Screening Office for further details.