Bowel scope screening is a new test for people aged 55 where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look inside your bowel.
It's done to look for and remove any small growths called polyps. These could eventually turn into cancer if they're not removed.
The test is also called a flexible sigmoidoscopy or "flexisig".
Bowel scope screening is being rolled out to all men and women in England aged 55. Depending on where you live, it may not be offered in your area yet.
If you're registered with a GP and live in an area where the test is available, you'll automatically be sent an invitation. Call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 to check if it's available in your area.
It's a one-off test, and you'll only be invited to have it once.
If you decide not to have the test straight away, you can have it at any point up to your 60th birthday. Call the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 to arrange an appointment.
From 60 onwards, you'll be invited to do a bowel cancer screening home test kit every 2 years instead.
About 2 weeks before the test:
On the day of the test:
For the test:
You're awake during the test.
It's usually painless, although some people find it uncomfortable. If you do have any pain, it usually only lasts a few moments.
The test only takes a few minutes. Your whole appointment may last about 90 minutes.
You can usually go home soon after the test is finished. You do not need to stay in hospital overnight.
Most people can return to their normal activities the same day.
You'll be told straight away if any polyps are found. You'll also be sent a letter explaining your result within 2 weeks.
There are 3 types of result:
A normal result means:
This does not mean you will not ever get bowel cancer. See a GP if you develop symptoms of bowel cancer at any point.
About 95 in 100 people have a normal result.
The bowel cancer screening programme has a leaflet on the colonoscopy test.
You can also find out more about what happens during a colonoscopy.
Fewer than 5 in 100 people are asked to have a colonoscopy.
If cancer is found, it's likely to be at an early stage, so there's a better chance of treatment being successful.
Fewer than 1 in 100 people are found to have cancer.
Bowel scope screening is very safe. In rare cases, it could damage the bowel and cause serious bleeding that might require surgery.
After going home, see a GP or call 111 straight away if you have:
You can call the free NHS bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60 for information and advice.
The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme has guides about: