Testing for blood in your poo: the home test kit

3rd April 2024

What is a faecal-immunochemical test (FIT test)?

You may know that the NHS offers national bowel cancer screening checks, by sending you a home kit. This home kit requires you to collect a small sample of poo and send it to a lab, where they check for tiny amounts of hidden blood.

A Guts UK cartoon figure of Colin, a pink large bowel with a smile on his face and two arms are present on each end with both thumbs up.

Blood can be a sign of bowel cancer, amongst other digestive conditions, so if the test finds anything unusual, you may be asked to go for further tests to rule out bowel cancer.

Screening is offered because bowel cancer is the 4th most common type of cancer. This home kit helps to find bowel cancer at an early stage when it is more treatable.

When should I expect to receive one in the post?

An unlabelled faecal immunochemical test sample tube lies on top of a sheet of paper that reads faecal immunochemical test test return envelope with instructions on top of a wooden table.

Unless you are over 74 years of age, you will not need to request a home test kit. The tests are sent to you in the post automatically, if you are eligible, but we have included the helplines for the bowel cancer screening programmes below in case you have any questions.

Scotland

Bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 50 to 74 across Scotland. You will be sent a test in the post every two years. If you’re 75 or older, you can request a new test kit each time by calling: 0800 0121 833.

England

Bowel cancer screening has recently just began expanding to make it available to everyone aged 50 to 59 years, as well as 60 to 74 years. This is happening gradually (over four years) and began in April 2021. You will be sent a test in the post every two years. If you are 75 or over, you can request a kit every two years by calling: 0800 707 60 60.

Northern Ireland

Bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 60 to 74 in Northern Ireland. You will be sent a test in the post every two years. For more information, contact: 0800 015 2514.

Wales

Bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 51 to 74. You will be sent a test in the post every two years. For more information, contact: 0800 294 3370.

Current Research

Guts UK is the only UK charity funding research into the digestive system from top to tail. Currently, we are funding Professor Colin Rees’ COLO-COHORT Study, which aims to develop a ‘risk stratification tool’ to determine those who are at a higher risk of developing bowel cancer or polyps. This tool will be able to be used to work out which patients need to be referred to endoscopy for investigation.

Our guts have been underfunded, undervalued and undervalued for decades. We can only continue to help people with your support. Together we can do more. Please consider donating to Guts UK today.

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