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Bowel screening and coronavirus

BowelScreen is continuing to receive and process samples from home testing kits. Please return as normal. Colonoscopy appointments are going ahead as planned.

Screening invites to eligible people are now being issued on a phased basis.

Completed home screening test kits and lab reports continue to be processed.

Safety precautions are in place in all our health services. This is to help protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Please attend your hospital appointment on the day and time you are given.

We will continue to closely review public health advice to make sure conditions remain safe for you and our staff.

You can contact BowelScreen on Freephone 1800 45 45 55.

If you are worried about symptoms of bowel cancer, phone your GP. Never ignore your symptoms.

Colonoscopy appointments

A nurse will contact you to arrange your colonoscopy and advise you on the COVID-19 measures in the hospital.

These changes may include:

  • your nurse or doctor wearing some personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • having to wait outside until it’s time for your appointment
  • fewer people in your healthcare building
  • waiting a little longer for your appointment

Please follow the hospital and Public Health advice in relation to attending hospital appointments.

Colonoscopy after bowel screening

Symptoms  - phone your GP

It is important to remember that 9 out of every 10 people with blood in their bowel motions (poo) will not have cancer. Blood in your poo could be caused by small growths called polyps or other conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles). 

Being aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer is still very important.

Symptoms include:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit - going more often, with looser stools and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in your poo - especially if mixed through the stool, this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids (piles)
  • stomach pain - discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating. This can sometimes result in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Bowel cancer symptoms are also very common, and most people with them do not have cancer.

For example:

  • a change in bowel habit or tummy pain is usually the result of something you've eaten
  • a change in bowel habit to going less often, with harder poo, is not usually caused by any serious condition - it may be worth trying laxatives before seeing your GP
  • constipation - where you pass harder stools less often
  • fresh blood often separate from your poo or coating the stool - this, when associated with pain or soreness, is more often caused by piles or a simple tear (fissure)

These symptoms should be taken more seriously as you get older and when they persist despite simple treatments. If you notice any of them, please contact your GP. 

Bowel cancer symptoms

page last reviewed: 09/04/2020
next review due: 09/04/2023