The bowel cancer screening test for people aged 60 or over is a kit you use at home.
This is used to check for tiny amounts of blood in your poo. It does not diagnose bowel cancer, but it's a simple way to find out if you need further tests.
How to get a screening kit
All men and women aged 60 to 74 who are registered with a GP in England are automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.
Make sure your GP has your correct address so your kit is posted to the right place.
If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
NHS screening kits are not available for people under 60.
How to use the kit
The main kit used in England is the faecal immunochemical test kit – known as the FIT kit.
Occasionally, some people may use an older kit called the faecal occult blood test kit – or FOB kit. The FOB kit is being gradually phased out.
With this kit, you collect 1 sample of poo in a small plastic sample bottle and post it back to a laboratory for testing.
There are instructions with the kit. You can also read the kit instructions online.
Media review due: 6 January 2023
You can watch translated versions of this video on Vimeo.
The FOB test
With this kit, you collect small samples of your poo and wipe them on a special card.
You take 2 samples of poo on 3 separate occasions and send them back in a sealed envelope for testing in a laboratory.
There are instructions with each kit. You can also read the kit instructions online.
Your result should be posted to you within 2 weeks of sending off your kit.
There are 2 types of result.
A normal result means:
- no blood was found in your poo sample
- you do not need to do anything
- you'll be invited to do another screening test in 2 years (if you'll still be under 75 by then)
This is not a guarantee that you do not have bowel cancer. See a GP if you get symptoms of bowel cancer at any point.
About 98 in 100 people get a normal result.
An abnormal result means:
- blood was found in your poo sample
- you do not necessarily have bowel cancer (the blood could be the result of something like piles) but you'll be offered another test called a colonoscopy to check
A colonoscopy is where a thin tube with a camera at the end is inserted into your bottom to look for signs of bowel cancer.
The bowel cancer screening programme also has a leaflet on the colonoscopy test.
About 2 in 100 people get an abnormal result.
More information and advice
Call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 if:
- your kit has not arrived when you expected it
- you have not had your result after 2 weeks from when you sent off your kit
- you want to know more about screening
- you do not want to be invited for bowel cancer screening
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme has guides about:
Page last reviewed: 12 February 2018
Next review due: 12 February 2021