Bowel Cancer Screening / Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

Bowel (colon) cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer which, at its early stages, exhibits few symptoms. The earlier that it is diagnosed, the greater the chance of a full recovery. The majority of bowel cancers begin as non-cancerous polyps which are growths on the wall of the bowel. Finding and removing these polyps can stop cancers from developing. Bowel cancer is one of the most common types of cancer diagnosed in the UK. Most people diagnosed with it are over the age of 60.

What is a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

A flexible sigmoidoscopy is an endoscopic examination of the lower bowel under sedation. An enema will be given to help clear the bowel and provide a clearer view. A scope (a thin tube) will be inserted and air will be pumped into the bowel during the examination. If polyps are located, they will be removed. The procedure will take around 10-20 minutes.

What are the benefits of having a flexible sigmoidoscopy?

Screening individuals with no obvious symptoms can significantly reduce the frequency and mortality rates of bowel cancer. A recent study reported the following benefits:

  • A 33% reduction in the risk of a bowel cancer diagnosis
  • A 43% reduction in the risk of death from bowel cancer
  • A 50% reduction in the incidence of distal bowel cancer

Treatment for bowel cancer

Bowel cancer can be treated using a combination of different treatments, depending on where the cancer is in your bowel and how far it has spread.

The main treatments are:

  • surgery
  • chemotherapy
  • radiotherapy
  • targeted therapies

As with most types of cancer, the chance of a complete cure depends on how far it’s spread by the time it’s diagnosed. If the cancer is confined to the bowel, surgery is usually able to completely remove it.



Bowel Cancer Screening / Flexible Sigmoidoscopy Consultants