adult screening programme
Bowel cancer is the general name given to cancer that begins in the large bowel. It can also be referred to as colon cancer and colorectal cancer. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.
Read more about bowel cancer on the NHS website.
UK NSC screening recommendation
Screening for bowel cancer should be offered every 2 years to men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 in the UK using the faecal-immunochemical test (FIT).
In July 2020, the UK NSC recommended the permanent discontinuation of bowel scope in the English Bowel Screening Programme. This is because:
- FIT screening from 50 years old (reduced from 60 years old) is effective in reducing deaths from bowel cancer and may also help prevent it
- it is unclear whether offering both bowel scope and FIT screening to people from 50 years old provides additional benefit to FIT testing alone - further research would be needed to find this out
- the bowel scope test is intrusive and difficult to implement
- all bowel cancer screening was temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, and stopping bowel scope screening permanently will allow service providers to focus on restoring screening
Supporting documents from the 2018 review
Evidence summary Bowel Cancer (2018)
This document provides the evidence on which the current UK NSC recommendation is based.
UK NSC Coversheet Bowel cancer (2018)
This document summarises the review process including the public consultation comments.
Screening around the UK
The UK NSC recommends screening for this condition, however this may vary slightly depending on where you are in the UK.
Date previous review completed: 2018
Next review estimated to be completed: 2021 to 2022.
To see previous evidence reviews, visit the UK NSC archive.
Organisations interested in Bowel Cancer
These organisations have expressed interest in this recommendation and may submit responses to evidence reviews.
List of organisations
- Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine
- Beating Bowel Cancer
- Bowel Cancer UK
- Bowel Cancer Wales
- British Association of Surgical Oncology
- British Society of Gastroenterology
- Cancer Research UK
- Faculty of Public Health
- Joint Advisory Group on GI Endoscopy
- Lynn's Bowel Cancer Campaign
- Medical Research Council
- Northern Ireland Cancer Network
- Royal College of General Practitioners
- Royal College of Nursing
- Royal College of Pathologists
- Royal College of Physicians
- Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
- Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
- Royal College of Radiologists
- Royal College of Surgeons
- Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
- Society and College of Radiographers
- The Assocation of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland
- The British Association for Cancer Research
- The British Association of Urological Surgeons
- Urostomy Association