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Useful Information

For patients and visitors, visit St Mark's Hospital's NHS

Bowel Cancer Screening

The National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme 
- St. Mark’s Hospital

Roll out of the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme using Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) home testing kits began Nationally in 2006, and full roll-out (all Screening Centres open) across England was completed in January 2010. The Programme is one of the first national bowel screening programmes in the world, and the first cancer screening programme in England to invite men as well as women.

St. Mark's Hospital Endoscopy Unit became a nominated and chosen site for the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme through a rigorous accreditation programme. The accreditation process led to the NHS Bowel Screening Certificate administered by the Joint Advisory Group on Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.

We initially commenced screening in October 2006 to 60-69 yr olds. We were the first screening centre in London to ‘go live’ and offer a bowel screening service to its local population.

This followed in 2008 within the extension in age up to an individual’s 75th birthday. We were again the first screening centre to offer the extension in age within the London region.

We have also been successful in our BID application to pilot the implementation of a flexible sigmoidoscopy screening service to 55yrs olds and the aim nationally is to commence this in early Spring 2013.

The Bowel Cancer Screening Centre is located within St. Mark's Hospital and currently covers the areas of Brent, Harrow & Hillingdon & North Ealing Primary Care Trusts.

The Bowel Cancer Screening Centre is in strong partnership and working closely with The London Programme Hub (also based within St. Mark’s hospital), Primary Care Trusts and Public Health Teams to promote the service and provide education and awareness locally.

Within the Centre we co-ordinate and aim to provide the highest level of holistic care to individuals identified through the Screening Programme.

FOBT Screening:

All men and women aged 60-75th birthday and registered with a GP will be automatically offered a Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) every two years.

Those over 75 years will not be invited automatically but can call the free-phone number to request their free kit.

The symptoms of bowel cancer vary and not everybody will have symptoms. Research has shown that screening men and women for bowel cancer using a FOB Test can reduce the mortality rate from bowel cancer by 16% in those invited for screening.

The aim is to find diseases (in this case bowel cancer) at an early stage when there is a better chance of a person being successfully treated.

Those eligible for screening will receive a kit for use in the privacy of their home. The FOB test kit is then analysed to detect traces of blood that may not be visible to the naked eye. The FOB test is NOT a diagnostic test for cancer.

Results will, however indicate whether further investigation is required.

Around 98% will receive a normal result and will be invited to participate again in a further 2 years time if still eligible.

Around 2 in 100 people will receive an abnormal/ positive result. They will be referred to see the Specialist Bowel Screening Nurse to discuss and arrange a Colonoscopy if appropriate.

After having a Positive/Abnormal FOB Test and after a colonoscopy:
Approx 4 in 10 people will have a normal result
Approx 5 in 10 people will be found to have a polyp
Approx 1 in 10 people will have cancer detected

A free-phone helpline 0800 707 60 60 provides additional support to those taking up the offer of Bowel Cancer Screening.

Sarah Marshall, Clinical Programme Manager, with a FOBT kit

0208 869 3543                             0800 707 60 60

These information leaflets are available in a variety of languages:

NHS Bowel Screening: The Facts

NHS Bowel Screening: Colonoscopy Investigation

Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) screening:

FS is a complementary bowel screening methodology to the current FOB test, and could prevent around 3,000 cancers every year.

Evidence shows men and women attending a one-off FS screening test for bowel cancer can reduce their mortality from the disease by 43% (31% on an invited population basis) and reduce their incidence of bowel cancer by 33% (23% on a population basis).

Improving Outcomes: A Strategy for Cancer set out how we will incorporate FS into the current bowel screening programme, with 60% coverage across England by the end of 2014-15.


All indiviuals who are aged 55 years and 2 months, resident in England and registered with a GP practice that is linked to a Screening Centre site that is offering the service of FS Screening, will be eligible to receive a one off invitation to attend for a FS Screening test at a specified time, date and location.

Self Referrals

Individuals between the ages of 55 and 60 years will be able to self refer, by contacting a Hub, if they are resident in England, registered with a GP practice that is linked to a Screening Centre site that is offering the service of FS Screening, and have not already had a completed FS Screening test.

Screening Team


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