Bowel Screening

Getting a 'normal' result of a FOBt by post

People should receive a letter giving them the result of their Faecal Occult Blood test within two weeks. Results may be normal, unclear or abnormal.

Having done the test some people worried until they had their results. Most people who take part in the programme receive a normal result and those that we talked to said they felt a sense of relief when they heard that all was well. One woman said she felt 'elated'.

A woman who had read that results might take up to two weeks said she initially felt alarmed when her husband's results arrived after only two days. She assumed the worst. Her own results arrived the next day. She was relieved when she read that their results were normal and on reflection she thought the screening service was very efficient. 

Almost all those who received a normal result thought it was good to get their results through the post (though they said they were not sure how they might feel about getting results by post if they had an abnormal result). However, one woman thought it might be nice to receive results from a doctor or someone else face to face A man pointed out that it was quicker to get results by post and a woman said that she would not have wanted to see someone about her results because she would have got 'in a state' waiting for the appointment. 

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When people get the letter with the results they are also given a list of the symptoms of bowel cancer in order to promote awareness. Screening is done every two years (for those aged 60-74) and bowel cancer might develop between screening rounds. Many people thought it was a good idea to receive this list of symptoms, and although a man said that the information about symptoms had not affected his behaviour, others said that the detailed list of symptoms had affected how they inspected their motions. A woman said that the information encouraged her to include more fruit in her diet.

One man was told that his Faecal Occult Blood test result was normal, but having read about the symptoms of bowel cancer he checked his motions regularly and noticed blood. After six months he went to his GP and was eventually diagnosed with bowel cancer.

Last reviewed May 2016.
Last updated May 2016.

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