About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime. It is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths with over 16,000 people dying from it each year. Symptoms can include bleeding from your bottom and/or blood in your poo, unexplained weight loss or a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habit.
Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be effective. Regular screening has shown to reduce the risk of dying by 16%. Screening is offered every two years to both men and women aged between 60 and 74 who are registered with a GP. If you are aged 75 or over, you can opt in to the programme by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 6060.
Somerset Bowel Cancer Screening Centre is based at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton and is part of the national bowel cancer screening programme.
When you’re invited to a screening, we’ll send you an information leaflet explaining the benefits and risks and ask you to carry out a faecal immunochemical test (FIT) using a special kit, which will be sent to you separately with instructions about a week later.
We will send you your results around two weeks after we’ve received your completed FIT kit. If your result is abnormal, try to not to worry because it may not mean you have cancer. You will be invited to an appointment with a specialist screening practitioner to discuss having a colonoscopy.
If your result is normal, then you can reduce your risk of developing the disease in future by watching your diet. There are also symptoms to look out for between screens – contact your GP if you get any of these.