The lifetime risk of developing bowel cancer is believed to be about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 25 for women; making it the third most common cancer worldwide . According to the American Cancer Society, regular screening from the age of 45 is crucial, it can lead to a vital early diagnosis where more treatment options may be available. Though, depending on certain factors, you may be required to screen earlier.
Although the only approved way to check for bowel cancer is with a colonoscopy, you can screen for indicators of bowel cancer with an at-home bowel screening test.
How can you screen for bowel cancer from home?
There is no verified way to check for bowel cancer at home. That said, you can screen for signs of bowel cancer from home and the most reliable way to do this is with an at-home bowel screening test.
If you’re looking to screen for bowel cancer from the comfort of your own home, LetsGetChecked’s at-home Bowel Cancer Screening Test is a faecal immunochemical test (FIT test) that can help identify the presence of cancerous or precancerous growths in the bowel by detecting blood in the stool that is invisible to the naked eye. This home test kit detects human haemoglobin in the stool and so other sources of blood, such as from your diet will not cause a positive result.
Your test will be sent to the same lab used by doctors and hospitals with online test results available in just 5 days. Our dedicated team of nurses is available 24/7 and will call you to explain your results and answer any questions you may have.
If you have already noted blood in the stool, or any other symptoms listed below, you should talk to your doctor.
Can bowel cancer be detected without a colonoscopy?
The only recommended and approved way to accurately diagnose and detect bowel cancer is with a colonoscopy. Before this, however, a doctor may recommend a stool test, such as a faecal immunochemical test (FIT), to check for blood that might not be visible to the naked eye.
A diagnostic colonoscopy will usually be carried out if a person is having symptoms or if a bowel screening test shows an abnormal result. This is one of the most sensitive tests available for bowel cancer screening.
Remember, if you are concerned about your risk of bowel cancer, it's important to speak with your doctor.
What are the risk factors of bowel cancer?
Although the cause of bowel cancer is unknown, research has shown that there are a handful of risk factors associated with an increased risk of developing bowel cancer, some of these include :
- Being overweight or obese
- Heavy alcohol use
- Older age
- Family history of bowel cancer
While some risk factors are outside of your control, you can take steps toward reducing your risk of bowel cancer through lifestyle changes such as following a balanced diet, drinking alcohol in moderation, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking.
What are the early warning signs of bowel cancer?
According to Mayo Clinic, many people with bowel cancer experience little to no symptoms in the early stage, which is why regular screening is so important. If symptoms do appear, they can differ from person to person however some of the more common signs can include:
- Change in bowel habits
- Blood in your stool
- Unexplained weight loss
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, speak with your doctor.
You can screen for bowel cancer from home with LetsGetChecked’s at-home Bowel Screening Test. The purpose of this test is to identify the presence of blood in the stool, which may be invisible to the naked eye.
You should consider taking the test if:
- You’re experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms
- You have a history of adenomas (benign tumors)
- You have inflammatory bowel disease* (which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis)
- You have an inherited syndrome (e.g. Lynch syndrome/HNPCC or FAP)
- You have type 2 diabetes
- You have undergone radiation therapy
If you have already noted blood in the stool, you should speak with your doctor.