Bowel Cancer Screening

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.

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 incidence of distal bowel cancer


When will I get the results?

You will be told what was seen and discovered immediately after the procedure ends. Any biopsies or polyps that have been removed will be sent for histological analysis (examination under a microscope). This usually takes around five days to complete.

This page is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

Bowel Cancer Screening Consultants