Colon cancer screening options in the UK

40tude has learned that heightened awareness of colon cancer is essential, particularly for anyone over 45.  Any abdominal symptoms or change in bowel habit should be discussed immediately with your doctor, whatever your age.

We strongly recommend that you are screened regularly for colon cancer from your mid-40s.  High quality CT Colonography (a CT scanner-based screening method) and Colonoscopy are the most accurate methods for examining the colon for precursor polyps and cancer. The NHS is not able to offer these forms of screening to the whole population but that shouldn't stop you considering adding them to your screening programme.

If you live in England:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The NHS offers bowel scope screening to all men and women aged 55. NHS bowel scope screening uses a thin flexible tube to find and remove small growths called polyps in the lower part of the large bowel that could eventually turn into cancer. Some people who are found to have polyps during bowel scope screening are offered a colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy is a test similar to bowel scope screening which checks further up your large bowel. In colonoscopy, the specialist uses a thin flexible tube (a colonoscope) with a tiny camera on the end to look inside your bowel and remove any small growths called polyps. They also use the colonoscope to check the bowel for cancer.

NHS bowel scope screening is a one-off test, and you'll only be invited to have it once.  Between the ages of 60 to 74, the NHS invites you do a home bowel screening test kit every two years.

If you live in Scotland:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                NHS Health Scotland invites people aged 50 to 74 across Scotland to undertake bowel screening every two years. The Scottish Bowel Screening Centre will send a free test kit to your home address. If the amount of blood found in your sample is above the normal screening limit, you’ll be referred for a colonoscopy.

If you live in Wales:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         A bowel screening test kit is currently offered to men and women who are resident in Wales aged between 60 and 74 years old.

Private screening options:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              If you wish to arrange screening privately, the following are some options. 

1.      For CT Colonongraphy:                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

        Dr David Burling     http://www.londonradiology.co.uk/about-us/dr-david-burling/  or contact his PA Magda Michalak: Pa@londonradiology.co.uk (0207 079 2107)

2.     For Colonoscopy:

a.      Dr Sirwan Thomas-Gibson    http://www.thelondonclinic.co.uk/consultants/dr-siwan-thomas-gibson                                                                             

b.      Dr Brian Saunders    http://www.thelondonclinic.co.uk/consultants/professor-brian-p-saunders

If you are able to arrange your screening through the NHS you might wish to ask to be referred to the above doctors, who all practise currently at St. Mark’s Hospital in Harrow, the world-leading centre for the treatment of bowel disorders.

CT colonography is a less invasive alternative to colonoscopy with the same accuracy, a milder laxative and the ability to look at the other organs in the abdomen and pelvis outside the colon, including the appendix. 

Please do take a moment to watch this short video which shows you just how easy CT Colonography is to have.  Please share it widely also to encourage your friends and family to get screened as early as possible also.