Bowel Screening

Views of the service and messages to others

People who took part in the bowel cancer screening programme were very enthusiastic about every aspect of the service. Those who had a 'normal' result liked being reassured and those who were diagnosed with bowel cancer recognised that early diagnosis had prevented the spread of cancer in the body and might have saved their lives. Some knew that other countries do not have a bowel screening programme and felt lucky that has been introduced in the UK.

A man who had polyps removed said that he could not fault the system. Everything that had happened to him during the screening process had been 'superb'. He said that the nurses were 'brilliant' and that he had never once felt embarrassed. He encourages others to take part in screening.

Many other people said that they were most impressed by the coordination, efficiency and teamwork involved in the national bowel cancer screening programme. This man, for example, said that staff involved in screening were kind, helpful, easy to talk to and very efficient. 

Some people were convinced that the screening programme had not only saved their lives but that it must be cost effective. Others said they were lucky to have had screening.

Some people thought that screening for bowel cancer ought to be available for those under 60 as it is in Scotland (Scottish Bowel Screening Programme). In England people aged 74 and over can ask, to be screened for bowel cancer by calling the programmes Freephone helpline 0800 707 60 60. 

One woman said screening was a good idea because people might be more inclined to put a stool sample in the post than consult their GP about a bowel problem. Someone else suggested that the screening programme relieved pressure of work for the GPs.

Many people wanted to encourage others to take part in screening for bowel cancer. They said that people 'have nothing to lose' by taking part, and that it gives people peace of mind. Several who had originally thought the process was a bit messy or awkward (including a woman who had arthritis and who found that taking part in screening was a 'bit of an ordeal' and 'a little inconvenient') still encouraged others to take part. Many others said that screening is a simple operation, nothing to be nervous about. One woman said that it was easy as long as you follow instructions.

We also sought the views of people who had opted out of the screening programme (Their views are covered in 'Why some were reluctant or did not take part'.)

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Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.


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