Colonoscopy is an examination of the large bowel (colon and rectum), used to check for problems involving the lining of the bowel such as polyps, cancer, diverticular disease or inflammatory conditions such as colitis and Crohn’s. Colonoscopy can also be used for various therapies such as removing polyps. Colonoscopy is not usually performed under general anaesthetic but sedation or entonox (gas and air) can be used. For a colonoscopy to be performed, patients have to clear the bowel using strong laxatives (Bowel prep). Please see the following link for a more detailed description.


Flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to colonoscopy but only examines the lower part of the bowel and can therefore be done with an enema before the procedure, rather than bowel prep.


Bowel cancer is very common, affecting approximately 1 in 20 people in their lifetime. Bowel cancer becomes more common with age and usually starts from small, benign (non-cancerous) polyps which grow with time and may then turn into a cancer. The Bowel Cancer Screening Program is available to all individuals aged 60-74. In certain parts of the country (including Leicestershire) Bowel Scope screening is also running, offering a one-off flexible sigmoidoscopy (similar to a colonoscopy) to all individuals aged 55 years.


The government have now agreed to lower the age limit for bowel cancer screening to 50, but this will not come into widespread adoption for several years (!-bowel-cancer-screening-age-to-be-lowered-to-50-in-england/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Campaigner%20breaking%20news%20-%20UKNSC%20recommendations&utm_content=Campaigner%20breaking%20news%20-%20UKNSC%20recommendations+CID_1e53ff1f1f26aca43b5df8d624a0d1f4&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor&utm_term=Find%20out%20more).

If you do not meet the criteria for NHS screening but have concerns, a private consultation can help to discuss any possible risks and benefits of getting screened.