Bowel Screening

People's views of the initial information leaflet

All those invited to be screened receive written information about the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme -an explanatory letter and an accompanying information leaflet. People who have an abnormal test result get another information leaflet detailing the benefits and risks of the colonoscopy investigation, along with their results letter and an appointment with a specialist nurse practitioner to discuss the procedure. (See 'Talking to specialist practitioners about results') 

Some people had been screened some time ago and remembered little about the information they had received at the time. But almost all who remembered the initial information leaflets spoke very highly of them. People said that the information was in plain English, easy to understand and covered everything they needed to know.

The initial information leaflets (and the letters people receive when they get their results), include a list of the symptoms people might notice if they have bowel cancer, which some people didn't know about.

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A man who had an unclear test result followed by a normal result and then an abnormal result was most impressed with the information provided:

One man found all the information a bit repetitive, but the leaflet clearly set out the advantages and disadvantages of doing the test and the information convinced him to be screened. Another man recalled diagrams of the bowel in the leaflet and the clear information that screening involves risks.

One woman who thought the amount of information was OK said, 'I'm the sort of person the more information I have the more I get worried'. Another said that the amount of detail provided in the initial information was about right; she didn't want more information about possible investigations. 

Not everyone felt the first booklet gave enough information. A woman who had an abnormal result would have liked more explanation about colonoscopy. A retired nurse also felt that the initial information leaflet should have said more about the experience of having a colonoscopy. Colonoscopy can cause some colicky pain but experiences are likely to differ according to whether or not anaesthesia or sedation is used and how people react to pain. Most of the people who had had a colonoscopy reported relatively little discomfort (see 'The colonoscopy procedure and treatment'). It should be noted that this woman had had a similar investigation in the past, an endoscopy, without any sedation or anaesthetic. 

Someone else pointed out that the information leaflets include useful phone numbers.

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Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.


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