Faster and more accurate testing for signs of bowel cancer is being introduced by GP practices across

The new test, the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), was launched in July across the county for patients aged 60 and over with change of bowel habit.

FIT works by determining whether there is blood in a person’s stool (poo) sample that is not visible to the naked eye. Blood in the stool may be an early sign of a colon polyp (a small growth that’s typically not cancerous) or of bowel cancer.

GPs will be able to request the test from their consultation with the patient. Following the GP appointment, the testing kit is posted to the patient’s home address and comes with easy-to-follow instructions on how to take a sample.

Using the kit, patients will then collect a small stool sample and post it back with pre-paid packaging to the specialist hub laboratory in Nottingham. There the sample will be analysed for blood, a possible sign of the cancer.

Results are then sent electronically to GPs, who communicate the findings to their patients.

If a patient has a positive result, they may need to have follow-up testing in the form of a colonoscopy (an examination of the colon using a colonoscope).

The introduction of FIT is important as bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, with 42,000 people diagnosed every year – but figures from Public Health England suggest five-year survival for early stage bowel cancer is greater than 90%.

By introducing FIT in Northamptonshire the aims are to reduce the amount of people having unnecessary investigations and improve patient experience, to reduce the time to diagnosis for patients with bowel cancer, and to improve the detection of early stage bowel cancers.

For further information on the introduction of the Faecal Immunochemical Test in Northamptonshire, please contact Dr Az Ali, Northamptonshire CCGs’ Clinical Lead for Cancer ( or Cancer Project Officer Ashley Wilsdon (