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. With an urgent referral you should see a specialist within 2 weeks. 

Tests for bowel cancer

You might have one or more of these tests to work out the cause of your symptoms. Or to find out the size of your cancer and whether it has spread.

Bowel cancer screening

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

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: 
03 Dec 2021
Next review due: 
03 Dec 2024
Coronavirus and cancer

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Read our information about coronavirus and cancer