Tests for bowel cancer

There may be a number of reasons why you have been referred for further investigations. You may have gone to your GP with symptoms, or had an ‘abnormal’ result via the screening programme, or you may have a family history of bowel cancer.

Whatever the reason, the specialist will choose from the range of investigations detailed below and explain why the test chosen is best for you. They will also discuss any possible risks such as bleeding or perforation (small hole) of the bowel.

Waiting for test results

Waiting for the results of the tests can be a worrying time. Ask the doctor or specialist nurse when you can expect to find out the results and whether it will be via a clinic appointment, a phone call, or a letter. If your test results show that you do have cancer, it is generally better to come to a clinic appointment to see a doctor and specialist nurse in person, as there is often a lot of information to take in. If you do have bowel cancer, your doctor and specialist nurse will talk to you about what happens next.


If your test results show that you do not have bowel cancer, you will either be referred back to your GP, or if other tests or treatments are needed for a problem unrelated to cancer, these can be arranged by the hospital doctor, or again, via your GP.