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Bowel Screening Wales

Why screen for bowel cancer?

Why screen for bowel cancer?

• If bowel cancer is picked up early enough, it is more likely that the disease will be treated successfully.
• Regular bowel screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 15%.
• Bowel cancer can develop from polyps (small growths) in the bowel. If the polyps are removed, the risk of cancer is reduced.

What does the screening test look for?

• The screening test looks for hidden blood in the bowel movements (faeces or stools). This may suggest a higher chance of bowel cancer. It is called the faecal occult blood (FOB) test. ‘Occult’ means hidden.
• The test can also detect other changes such as polyps (small growths). Most polyps are harmless but some can lead to bowel cancer. Most polyps can be easily removed.
• Sometimes the blood can be there because a polyp has bled.
• There may also be other reasons for the blood, such as haemorrhoids (piles) or small fissures (tears) in the bowel.
• The test does not tell you if you have bowel cancer.
The results will tell you whether you need further tests.

Who is screening aimed at?

• We invite men and women aged between 50 and 74, and who are living in Wales, for bowel screening every two years.
• The screening will begin with people aged between 60 and 69. By 2015, we will extend it to invite everyone aged between 50 and 74 for screening.
• Screening isn’t suitable for some people with bowel problems. Please call the helpline if you want further information.
 
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Last updated: 30/09/2010