Screening for Bowel Cancer

I am a community Screening and Awareness coordinator for the Cancer Wise Leeds project. I work alongside GP Practices and organisations in different communities of south Leeds to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer and to help improve the uptake of bowel, breast and cervical screenings.

Screening programmes are an extremely important and vital way of detecting the early signs of cancer. We want to ensure that every single person who may be eligible for a cancer screening in south Leeds gets their screening at the earliest possible opportunity.

April is Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, so I am going to focus specifically on bowel screenings. As background, bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, accounting for 11% of all new cancer cases. Signs and symptoms of bowel cancer do vary, but can include a persistent change in bowel habits, abdominal (tummy) pain, bloating or discomfort. To find out more about signs and symptoms, please see:

Bowel screening is offered every two years to people aged 60 to 74 that are registered with a GP practice. Some people aged 56 are also being invited. This is because NHS England is expanding this programme over the coming years. Eventually, everyone aged between 50 to 74 will be invited. After the age of 74, residents are able to self-refer for a screening. The number to call is: 0800 707 6060.

The bowel screening test can detect signs before a cancer has even developed, allowing treatment to take place immediately. The screening is undertaken through a home test that is sent to patients of eligible age through the post.

You will receive information in advance of the kit being sent out which will provide more details about the test and how to complete it. There is also a video available on how to do the test in various languages by the NHS which can be seen here:



If you do not receive your bowel screening letter or if you need a new kit, please contact 0800 707 6069. Alternatively, you can speak to your GP surgery who can order a kit for you.

If you experience any signs or symptoms that are not normal, please get in touch with your GP to discuss further as soon as possible.

For more information regarding Cancer Wise Leeds, which is funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research and delivered in partnership by Leeds City Council and the Leeds Cancer programme partnership, see:


This post was written by Alex Cocker

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2 Replies to “Screening for Bowel Cancer”

  1. Why are we not being screened after 76 years old? Don’t we matter after that?

    1. Hi Juliet, thanks for your comment, we’ve checked and been advised as follows: ‘After the age of 74, residents are able to self-refer for a screening. The number to call is: 0800 707 6060.’

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