This month is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month with the aim of raising awareness of both the symptoms and the free screening available to the over 60’s.

In the UK, Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer with 94% of cases being seen in men and women over the age of 50 (although it can affect all ages).  It is also the second highest cause of cancer death in the UK.

The good news is that it is not only treatable but curable if diagnosed early, hence the need to be aware of the symptoms and free screening available.


Symptoms that you should be aware of include;

  • Bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo
  • A change in bowel habit lasting three weeks or more
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • A pain or lump in your tummy

These of course may be due to something other than bowel cancer, but nevertheless they should be checked out by your doctor.

Another symptom may be sudden strong pains in the stomach area, bloating and feeling or being sick. You may also be unable to empty your bowels or pass wind. This may be due to a tumour blocking your bowel so you should see your GP straight away.

Free Screening 

Taking part in bowel cancer screening lowers your risk of dying from bowel cancer. It picks up cancers at an early stage, when there is a good chance of successful treatment. If bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than nine in ten people will be successfully treated. Screening can also find non-cancerous growths (polyps) in the bowel that may develop into cancer in the future.  These can be removed and hence reduce your risks of developing bowel cancer.

Bowel Cancer UK offers free screening to the over 60’s every 2 years (until you reach 75 years of age) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, it is offered from the age of 50.

Bowel Cancer UK states; The national screening programme uses a home test called a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which looks for hidden blood in poo. The test will be posted to you, so you can do it in the privacy of your own home.

Using the cardboard sticks provided, you will be asked to smear two small samples of poo onto a special screening card. You will need to do this three times over a two week period (10 days in Northern Ireland and Scotland).

You will be given a self-sealing, freepost envelope to send the card back to the screening centre. Full instructions and a more detailed information leaflet will be sent to you with your invitation and test.

If you are aged 75 or over, you can ask for a screening test by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. 


For further information please press on the following link.