The UK NSC recommendation on Bowel Cancer screening in adults

Recommendation Systematic population screening programme recommended
Last review completed August 2018
Next review due in 2021/22
Key downloads

The UK NSC recommends a change to the test used in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programmes.  The use of Faecal Immunochemical Test as the primary test for bowel cancer should replace guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test. 


Find general information about population health screening.

More about Bowel Cancer

Colorectal cancer – commonly known as colon cancer, or bowel cancer – is any cancer that affects the last section of the digestive system. This usually means the colon (large bowel) or rectum (back passage).

» Read more about bowel cancer on NHS Choices

» Read more about bowel cancer on Cancer Research UK

Screening in the UK

Compare how screening is offered across the UK.


The Assocation of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland
Association for Clinical Biochemistry and Laboratory Medicine
Beating Bowel Cancer
Bowel Cancer UK
Bowel Cancer Wales
The British Association for Cancer Research
British Association of Surgical Oncology
The British Association of Urological Surgeons
British Society of Gastroenterology
Cancer Research UK
Faculty of Public Health
Joint Advisory Group on GI Endoscopy
Lynn's Bowel Cancer Campaign
Medical Research Council
Northern Ireland Cancer Network
Royal College of General Practitioners
Royal College of Nursing
Royal College of Pathologists
Royal College of Physicians
Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow
Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh
Royal College of Radiologists
Royal College of Surgeons
Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh
Society and College of Radiographers
Urostomy Association

The stakeholder groups will be involved when the recommendation is next reviewed. If you think your organisation should be added, please contact us. More information for stakeholders can be found in appendix C of the UK NSC evidence review process.

Recommendation Review History

Bowel cancer screening by Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) testing for men and women aged 50 to 74 was recommended by the UK NSC in July 2003 (the meeting minutes are available and the report on the evaluation of the UK colorectal cancer screening pilot can be downloaded below).

In 2011, the UK NSC agreed that screening for bowel cancer using flexible sigmoidoscopy also meets the UK NSC criteria. This review is available in the related documents section below.

In 2015 the UK NSC recommended a change to the Bowel Cancer Screening Programmes. The use of Faecal Immunochemical Test as the primary test for bowel cancer should replace guaiac Faecal Occult Blood Test. The review documents and UK NSC recommendation statement are available in the related document section below.

Related documents

icon Comments from 2018 consultation (PDF document, 2.00MB, 11/08/18)
icon Evaluation of the UK Colorectal Cancer Screening Trial May 2003 (PDF document, 1.68MB, 28/03/14)
icon FIT_Bowel_cancer_recommendation_January 2016 (PDF document, 75KB, 08/01/18)
icon FIT_Economic_Evaluation_July 2015 (PDF document, 1.44MB, 08/01/18)
icon FIT_pilot_evaluation_July 2015 (PDF document, 1.44MB, 08/01/18)
icon FIT_review_summary_June 2015 (PDF document, 303KB, 08/01/18)
icon FIT_UKNSC_Cover_Sheet_and_Redacted_Consultation_Comments_November 2015 (PDF document, 1.44MB, 08/01/18)
icon Re-appraisal of the options for colorectal cancer screening using flexible sigmoidoscopy (PDF document, 906KB, 08/04/11)
icon Review of Bowel Cancer against NSC Criteria 2000 (PDF document, 284KB, 26/08/09)

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