Bowel screening is offered to men and women aged 50 to 74 across Scotland to help find bowel cancer early when it can often be cured. You're 14 times more likely to survive bowel cancer if it's found early.
Half a million people in Scotland do their bowel screening test each year.
Who's at risk?
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Scotland. Around 4,000 people in Scotland get bowel cancer every year.
It's more common in people over 50 years of age, especially men.
Some risk factors are unavoidable, such as age, sex or family history. However, as well as doing your bowel screening test you can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by:
- eating a healthy diet containing wholegrains like wholegrain bread and cereals, beans, pulses and plenty of fruit and vegetables
- limiting foods high in sugar or fat, and avoiding sugary drinks
- avoiding processed meat like bacon and sausages, and limiting red meat
- getting to and keeping to a healthy weight – avoid gaining weight and try losing weight if overweight
- being more active in everyday life, this includes walking more and sitting less
- drinking less alcohol - not drinking alcohol is better for cancer prevention
- stopping smoking
- telling your GP if you’ve any worries about your bowel habits
More about the causes and risk factors of bowel cancer
Who'll be screened?
In Scotland, only people aged 50 to 74 will be invited for bowel screening every 2 years.
If you’re 75 or over, you can still take a bowel screening test every 2 years. However, you’ll need to request a new test kit each time as the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre won't send you one.
Bowel screening for transgender and non-binary people
What does it involve?
Bowel screening involves taking a simple test at home every 2 years. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo, as this could mean a higher chance of bowel cancer.
The aim of the test is to find:
- bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms
- other changes in the bowel, such as pre-cancerous growths called ‘polyps’
Most bowel polyps can be removed easily, which can prevent cancer from developing.
Your screening invitation
If you’re eligible, the Scottish Bowel Screening Centre will send you a free test kit to your home address. This is the address you used to register with your GP.
If you've moved house, you should register with a new GP as soon as possible so that you don't miss your screening invitation.