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Getting diagnosed

You usually start by seeing your GP. They will ask you about your general health and symptoms and will also examine you. This might include an examination of your back passage (rectum). Your doctor will then decide whether to do tests or refer you to a specialist.

Seeing your GP

See your doctor if you notice a change in your bowel habit that isn't normal for you or if you have any other of the possible signs and symptoms of bowel cancer.

Referral to a specialist

Your GP should arrange for you to see a specialist if you have symptoms that could be due to bowel cancer.

Tests to diagnose

You might have one or more of these tests to work out the cause of your symptoms. 

Tests to stage

These tests find out the position of the cancer, how big it is and whether it has spread. This tells you the stage of your bowel cancer.

Screening in England, Wales and Northern Ireland

Bowel cancer screening aims to check for bowel cancer or abnormalities that could lead to bowel cancer.

Screening in Scotland

Bowel cancer screening in Scotland uses a new screening test called FIT. It aims to find bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment is more likely to work.

Screening for people at high risk of bowel cancer

People with some conditions have a higher risk of getting bowel cancer at a younger age than usual. They might have screening earlier than the normal NHS bowel cancer screening programme. 

Last reviewed: 
26 Jul 2018

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