North East London Health & Care Partnership logo

Life-saving bowel screening campaign launches in London

NHS North East London is supporting a lifesaving campaign this summer from NHS London to encourage more people to do their free NHS bowel cancer screening test, which checks if you could have bowel cancer.

The campaign, “Your next poo could save your life”, urges people who have been sent a free NHS bowel cancer screening kit to use it.

Everyone aged 60 to 74 years who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent a screening kit every 2 years. The programme is expanding so that everyone aged 50 to 59 years will be eligible for screening. This is happening gradually over 4 years and started in April 2021 with 56-year-olds. The programme has also started to include 58-year-olds, so individuals may get a bowel cancer screening test kit before 60.

Cancer was caught early for Simon Clarke, 67, a London resident, thanks to bowel cancer screening.

Simon was investigated after his bowel cancer screening test and, in November 2021, polyps – little growths – were removed from his bowel.

He said: “I wasn’t particularly worried. I’ve always had the attitude it wouldn’t be me that gets ill.

“But when they analysed the polyps, cancer was in one of them. They caught it as a very minor tumour, and it hadn’t spread. Without the screening I wouldn’t have known it was there.

“I’d say to other people: use the bowel cancer screening kit when you’re sent it, because if it catches something early like it did with me, it could save your life.”

London Director of Public Health, Professor Kevin Fenton said: “Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers. Anyone can get it.

“Every year in the UK, 43,000 people are diagnosed and over 16,500 people die from bowel cancer every year. That is more than 45 deaths a day.

“Screening – which you do in private at home – can help prevent bowel cancer or find it at an early stage when it’s easier to treat.  Those who complete bowel cancer screening are 25% less likely to die of bowel cancer.

“That’s why the NHS sends out free bowel cancer screening kits to use at home. They are for people with no symptoms and most people get the all-clear. If you are sent a kit, please use it.”

The campaign “Your next poo could save your life” aims to increase uptake of bowel cancer screening across London. It is particularly focusing on those who are less likely to do the test: men, people sent the bowel cancer screening kit for the first time, people in deprived areas, people from some ethnic and faith communities, and people with a learning disability. 

To get the message out, the campaign will use London buses, roadside advertising, social media, and radio.  Community engagement with ethnic minority populations will be focused in the 10 boroughs with the lowest bowel cancer screening uptake in London. For more information, videos, case studies and campaign resources, please visit