NHS bowel scope screening is a relatively new test to help prevent bowel cancer. It finds and removes any small bowel growths, called polyps, that could eventually turn into cancer.

The NHS bowel scope screening programme is gradually being rolled out to all men and women in England aged 55.

To help you decide whether to have the screening test, you can also read the leaflet NHS Bowel Cancer Screening: Bowel scope screening (PDF, 261kb).

Why does the NHS offer bowel scope screening?

NHS bowel scope screening helps to prevent bowel cancer. For every 300 people screened, it stops two from getting bowel cancer and saves one life from bowel cancer.

Some health problems mean that it might not be possible for you to have bowel scope screening. For more information, read Can everybody have bowel scope screening at 55?.

When are you offered the test?

Bowel scope screening is a one-off test offered to men and women at the age of 55. This is a new type of screening that is gradually being rolled out across England – depending on where you live, it may not yet be offered in your area.

As of March 2015, about two-thirds of screening centres were beginning to offer this test to 55 year olds.

As long as you’re registered with a GP and living in an area where the test is being offered, you should automatically be sent an invitation.

If you decide not to have bowel scope screening when you are first invited, you can still have it at any time up until your 60th birthday. Just call the freephone helpline number 0800 707 60 60 to ask for an appointment.

At around the age of 60, you will be invited to have more bowel cancer screening using a different kind of test that looks for traces of blood in poo. This test is known as the FOB test.

Also on the NHS England You Tube channel you can see films that are specifically aimed at those with learning disabilities and carers but can be used by everyone to help them understand the bowel scope screening process.

The thirty minute film has been delivered as part of a programme of work to improve health outcomes for people with learning disabilities. The film is broken into short chapters, using simple language and pictures that talk through the bowel scope screening process.

The chapters cover areas, such as what bowel scope screening is, the importance of being tested, and how to prepare for the appointment. It also talks about why someone may not be suitable for bowel scope screening and the symptoms that could indicate early signs of bowel cancer.

You can view the films on the NHS England You Tube channel here and find more information about bowel scope screening on the NHS England website here.