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Bowel Cancer Screening

Free telephone helpline: 0800 707 60 60

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

Team photo of staff, some in uniform, standing on a short flight of steps

The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme was introduced across England between 2006 and 2010. In January 2010, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust successfully became a part of the national programme, providing screening services across the county at the John Radcliffe Hospital and the Horton General Hospital.

In 2015, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust launched a new, one-off test called bowel scope screening. The new test is for people aged 55, where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look inside your bowel. It is done to look for and remove any small growths called polyps, which could eventually turn into cancer.

Why screening is important

  • Bowel cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world and the second most common cause of cancer death in the UK (Cancer Research UK, 2005. Cancerstats).
  • About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.
  • Regular bowel screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 percent (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2006).
  • Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time.
  • Screening is for people without symptoms. If you are concerned about any symptoms, please contact your GP.
  • Bowel cancer symptoms - the NHS website

Types of screening tests

There are two types of tests used in NHS bowel cancer screening, available at Oxford University Hospitals:

If the results of these tests show anything unusual, we may ask you to have further tests.

When screening is offered

NHS bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 55 or over, who are more likely to get bowel cancer than younger people.

Bowel scope screening

Bowel scope screening is being rolled out to all men and women in England aged 55. Depending on where you live, it may not be offered in your area yet.

If you are 55, you will automatically be invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test, if your GP is attached to the programme. If you are aged 56 to 59, and your GP has been attached to the programme, you can 'opt-in' by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline:

Free bowel cancer screening helpline: 0800 707 60 60

Home sreening kit / Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test

If you are 60 to 74, we will automatically invite you to do an FOB test every two years.

If you are 75 or over, please request a home screening kit every two years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline.

Free bowel cancer screening helpline: 0800 707 60 60

What the results mean

Most people (98 percent) who complete the FOB test will receive a 'normal' result. A normal result means there was no blood detected.

This does not guarantee that you do not have or will never develop bowel cancer in the future, so it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

Bowel cancer symptoms - the NHS website

If you have received a 'normal' result, you will not require any further investigations. We will automatically offer you bowel cancer screening again in two years, until you reach the age of 74.

Around two percent of people who complete the FOB test will have an 'abnormal' result. This means there may have been blood detected. It is not a diagnosis of cancer, but it does mean you will require further investigation.

Some reasons for an 'abnormal' test result may be bleeding bowel polyps, fissures or other conditions, such as haemorrhoids (piles).

If you have received an 'abnormal' FOB test result, we will offer you an appointment with one of our Specialist Screening Practitioner (SSP) nurses at your local hospital. Your SSP nurse will assess your suitability for a diagnostic colonoscopy, which is an examination of the lining of the large bowel (colon) using a tiny camera on the end of a flexible tube, and book your appointment.

Colonoscopy investigations take place in the Endoscopy Unit at the John Radcliffe Hospital or Horton General Hospital.


Dr James East

Prof James East, MBChB, MD (Res), FRCP
Programme Director, Consultant Gastroenterologist

Mr Terry Tran-Nguyen

Mr Terry Tran-Nguyen, B.Pharm (Hons), PGDip PM
Programme Manager

Screening Consultants

  • Dr Tony Ellis
    Consultant Gastroenterologist, Colonoscopist Lead
  • Dr Elizabeth Bird-Lieberman
    Consultant Gastroenterologist
  • Dr Rebecca Palmer
    Consultant Gastroenterologist
  • Dr Caroline Hughes
    Consultant Pathologist Lead
  • Dr Horace D'Costa
    Consultant Radiologist Lead

Nurse Endoscopists

  • Deb Whittington
    Lead Nurse Endoscopist
  • Sanjay Korala
    Nurse Endoscopist
  • Helder Chainho
    Nurse Endoscopist

Nursing Staff

  • Jill Weeks
    Lead Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Claire Seccull
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Ekaterina Micheva
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Sue Williams
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Kate Williams
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Lucy Brown
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Navreet Gill
    Specialist Screening Practitioner
  • Jamunadevi Doraikannu
    Specialist Screening Practitioner

Administration Staff

  • Lewis Charlett
    Lead Administrator
  • Karen Clark
    Administration Officer
  • Viktoria Kovacs
    Administration Officer

Find us and contact us

Oxfordshire Bowel Cancer Screening Centre Office
Tel: 01295 229834


Free telephone helpline: 0800 707 60 60