Your feelings about bowel screening

You may feel frightened if you're told you have an abnormal bowel screening result. You may immediately think you have cancer but it's important to remember that most people who have an abnormal FOB test result will not have bowel cancer. For every 10 people with an abnormal result who are offered a colonoscopy, just one person will have bowel cancer.

Understandably, you may find screening for bowel cancer embarrassing. Collecting the samples in the privacy of your own home might make it easier and less embarrassing for you.

If you feel that you need support, you can contact Macmillan's Support Line on 0808 808 00 00.

Back to Bowel screening

The bowel

The bowel is part of our digestive system and is made up of the small bowel and the large bowel.

What is bowel cancer screening?

Bowel screening can find bowel cancer at a very early stage, when it has the best chance of being treated.

What to do with your FOB test kit

This test checks bowel motions for tiny amount of ‘hidden blood’. It is not a test for cancer, but can indicate whether further tests are needed to examine the bowel.

Getting your FOB test results

Waiting for your FOB test results can be an anxious time. You should get them back within two weeks.


A colonoscopy is a way of examining the lining of the bowel from the inside.

Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography, CT enema, CT pneumocolon)

This test uses a CT scanner to create a picture of the bowel.

Barium enema

This is a special x-ray of the large bowel.

Common questions about bowel screening

You may have lots of questions about bowel screening. You can ask your GP if you’re unsure of anything.