Bowel Screening Products

Faecal Occult Blood Testing for Screening and Symptomatic Assessment
of Colorectal Cancer and Adenomatous Polyps

Faecal Testing Choice

Alpha Laboratories has a long history of supplying the four UK Bowel Screening Programmes with gFOBT and FIT tests. We have been involved with the National Bowel Cancer Screening programme since 1998, as the key supplier of hema-screen™ (FOBT - faecal occult blood tests).

Moving to more advanced, sensitive and specific methods the screening programmes are now adopting faecal immunochemical testing (FIT). Alpha Laboratories was awarded the first contract for quantitative FIT as the front line test in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme, followed by tender wins in Wales and Northern Ireland. These employ the Hitachi Chemical HM-JACKarc system.

The use of FIT in the assessment of the symptomatic patients has advanced too, as more publications have demonstrated that the use of quantitative FIT as a “rule-out” test has benefits to clinicians, laboratories and patients. It can be used to triage patients presenting with abdominal symptoms as a step in the patient pathway to help manage colonoscopy resources more efficiently.


Bowel Cancer is the second largest cancer killer in the UK after lung cancer. Over 40,000 people are diagnosed every year, and of these only 50% will currently survive.

Recent studies suggest that over 90% of bowel cancer patients would survive if they were identified and treated in the early stages of the disease. In the UK a national screening program has been implemented to do just that. Many cancers start as small growths on the lining of the gut called “Polyps”. The formation of these polyps becomes more common as we get older, and not all polyps will develop into cancerous growths. Patients who have developed polyps can be identified as these tend to bleed into the gut and this blood can be found in the faeces. The polyps, if potentially cancerous, can easily be removed during a colonoscopy.

Guaiac-based Faecal Occult Blood Testing (FOBT) kits were traditionally used in the national screening program in England, Scotland and Wales. The kits work by identifying blood that may be present in the faeces of patients in the early stages of the disease. A positive test will result in a visit to the colonoscopy unit, where the cause of the bleeding can be identified.

Alpha Laboratories has a range of FOBT products to choose from depending on the clinical situation, whether that is screening the asymptomatic population or for use in confirming symptomatic patients have demonstrable bleeding.

It is now widely recognised that Quantitative Faecal Immunochemical Testing (qFIT) provides greater sensitivity and specificity for identifying haemoglobin in faeces. Advancing bowel cancer screening and symptomatic assessments, the HM-JACKarc Quantitative Faecal Immunochemical Test system brings FIT testing within a convenient automated platform.


  • Bowel cancer screening can detect bowel cancer at its earliest stage, when there is a 90% (9 in 10) chance of curing it.

  • With regular screening, 16% (1 in 6) fewer people die from bowel cancer.

  • Removing polyps which are discovered through screening can reduce the chances of developing bowel cancer.

  • There is now also evidence that quantitative testing for faecal haemoglobin (FIT) can be used as a diagnostic method for triaging patients presenting with abdominal symptoms

  • FIT can be used as a rule in/rule out disease indicator to help better manage colonoscopy services

Diagnostics Kits - Information for the Public

Alpha Laboratories is a supplier of diagnostic kits for use by professional medical personnel within a clinical laboratory or doctors surgery. They are sold only to professionals for use in medical diagnostic or screening programmes. They are not available to the general public for home testing.

Whilst some of the sample collection may be carried out at home, the performance of the tests and analysis of results must be done by professionals in a clinical environment. This is to ensure correct procedures are followed, avoid potential interference from procedural or clinical conditions and certify accurate interpretation of results. As such these tests are not validated for use by non professionals.

For any concerns you may have please consult with your GP who should be able to advise you.

Alternatively the following websites may provide additional help:

NHS Bowel Cancer Screening:

Cancer Research UK:

Bowel Cancer UK:

Lab Tests Online:

The IBS Network:

Crohn's and Colitis UK:

Crohn's Support:

Bowel Screening Products