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Bowel screening programme

The purpose of Bowel Screening 

Bowel Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, before people are experiencing any symptoms, when treatment is more effective. 

If diagnosed early, bowel cancer is highly treatable.  Not all bowel cancers are detected early; some are diagnosed too late. 

Dr Gaduzo Holding BCOC Sign

The Bowel Screening Programme

Every two years, residents aged 60-75 will receive an invitation letter to participate in the Bowel Screening Programme. 

The letter will be addressed from the UK NHS, Midlands & North West, Bowel Screening Office based in Rugby. This is because the Department of Health and Social Care has appointed this office to manage the programme on our behalf. 

Around eight days later a test kit will be posted to you and will enclose the following items: 

  • a leaflet explaining how to complete the test
  • a test card to collect your samples
  • some card applicators to help apply your samples to the test card
  • a prepaid reply envelope

You will have 12 weeks to return your test kit – though once the first sample has been taken it must be received for testing within 14 days

Completing the test

This video explains how to use the test kit:

Symptoms and family history

The bowel screening tests are sent to all Isle of Man residents aged between 60 and 75 that are registered with a GP, regardless of whether you have experienced symptoms and/or have a family history of the disease.

However, it is important that you are aware of the symptoms and make a doctor’s appointment if you have any of the below – especially if they persist (don’t wait for the screening results):

  • A change in your normal bowel habit lasting 4-6 weeks or more.
  • Bleeding from the bottom and/or blood in your faeces (poo).
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness.
  • A pain and/or lump in your abdomen. 

Remember: Most people with these symptoms do not have bowel cancer, but your GP will want to examine you and may carry out further tests to rule it out. 

In about 25% of cases of bowel cancer diagnosed in the UK there is a family history.  In general, the more members of a family affected by bowel cancer and/or the younger they were at diagnosis, the greater the chance of a family link. 

Be Clear on Cancer

Throughout March 2017, the Isle of Man is linking in with a UK-wide campaign to raise awareness of bowel cancer and screening. This is important as the simple, private test is designed to detect the early stages of bowel cancer when there may be no symptoms present. The key message of the campaign is “this little test could save your life”:

  • Every year, 2000 people aged 60 – 74 are diagnosed with bowel cancer in the North West and 600 people of the same age in the region will die from the disease
  • Bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16 per cent
  • When bowel cancer is diagnosed at the earliest stage, more than 9 in 10 people will survive the disease for more than 5 years

Dr Henrietta Ewart, Director of Public Health, explains:

“I recommend that patients complete their bowel screening test when it arrives through the post because it’s one of the best ways to find bowel cancer early, when it’s easier to treat successfully. I also encourage everyone to read the leaflet sent with their test kit, to help them decide whether to take part because bowel cancer screening is a personal choice.”

You may have seen the related TV advert below:

Updating my personal details

If you wish to notify the screening organisers of any changes to your address, or to be removed from the contact list, please call freephone 0800 707 6060, choose option 1 and advise the operator that you are on the Isle of Man. It should also be noted that your contact details are provided by your GP, so it is worth checking that these are also up-to-date.


The Bowel Cancer Screening Leaflet contains answers to a number of questions that we are regularly asked by members of the public. 

If you have any further questions about the Isle of Man Bowel Screening Programme, contact:

UK NHS Helpline and Support Freephone

Telephone:0800 707 6060 Option 1 Midlands Hub

Monday to Friday - 9.30am to 5.30pm

Saturday - 8.30am to 12.30pm 

Alternatively, local advice and support can be sourced from:

Macmillan Cancer Information & Support Service

Main Entrance

Noble's Hospital


Isle of Man


Telephone:+44 1624 650735


Macmillan Colorectal/Stoma Care

Specialist Nurse

Telephone:+44 1624 650212

Note: This phone number is covered by an answer phone; please leave a message and you will be contacted when the Specialist Nurse is available. 

Page last updated October 2017 Review April 2018

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