Bowel cancer is the commonest internal cancer. It can be prevented by the eradication of polyps and over 90% of bowel cancers can be cured if detected early. Polyps are areas of overgrowth of the bowel lining.
A simple bowel cancer screening tool – called the FOB (Faecal Occult Blood) test is recommended for people with no symptoms from the age of 50, repeated every two years until age 75.
Some people have an increased risk (family history) and the time of starting the FOB test may be earlier or other screening techniques recommended (like a Doctor have a look inside the bowel – called a ‘colonoscopy’).
A digital rectal exam (gloved finger up your bottom) is not a recommended screening tool for bowel cancer but is part of the investigation should you present with a positive result. In most cases if you have a positive result then the reason for the bleeding needs to be determined and usually this involves a colonoscopy.
The FOB test is pretty simple to do and does not involve anything more than taking a small scraping from some faeces that you catch on toilet paper or a disposable liner in the toilet bowel.