How long does it take for me to get a test once I have requested one?
You will receive the test set by post within seven days.
How will I be notified and how long will it take?
Once you have sent in your sample, you will receive written notification within seven days after receipt.
How reliable are the tests?
The most reliable examination is the colonoscopy, but for anyone who does not want one or who has not reached the age of eligibility (55 years), the immunological test is appropriate. The detection limit is over 90%, which is twice as reliable as the tests previously used by health insurance funds. It is worth carrying out this test annually.
When is a test NOT appropriate?
1. If you are considerably younger than 40 and have no family history of cancer (see questionnaire).
2. For women during menstruation, for anyone suffering from diarrhoea or for women who are pregnant.
How does bowel cancer develop?
This has not been definitively explained. One thing that is certain is that bowel cancer frequently develops from polyps. These grow within the colon and remain harmless for many years, some for ever.
Some of these polyps, however, develop into cancer over a long period of time – ten years.
This is why any polyps that are discovered are removed.
Can bowel cancer be prevented?
Since the development of the disease has not been definitively explained, it is not possible to give a definitive recommendation. However, it seems to be certain that a healthy diet including plenty of
fibre has a positive effect. Physical exercise is also an important element of prevention.
What should I do if a test comes back positive?
A positive test simply means that blood has been found – human blood to be more precise. At this point it is essential that a colonoscopy is carried out to establish the cause of the bleeding. Half of people
testing positive have a polyp (see above), whilst a third have an inflammatory condition and just 10% of those testing positive actually have a tumour.
Important: These tumours are generally in a very early stage and respond well to treatment, or can even be curable.
If there is anything you are worried about or don’t understand, speak to your doctor or contact us by e-mail.
Are there symptoms for bowel cancer?
Unfortunately there are no early warning signs for bowel cancer – apart from blood in the stools.
Can I get a test for my spouse/partner?
Yes, either from a pharmacy (€ 19.00) or by transferring € 10.00 to the following account:
BKK gegen Darmkrebs
Account no.: 670 907 807
Bank code: 352 510 00
Bank: Sparkasse Dinslaken
IBAN: DE44 3525 1000 0670 9078 07
(Please be sure to provide your full address in the reference note).
How often do I need to take a sample?
In principle one sample should suffice, but since some tumours do not bleed on a daily basis, it is safer to take samples over several days (ideally three).
What do I do if I’m not able to “go” every day?
Then take samples on the days when you can go, although there shouldn’t be more than a week between the tests. If this is the case then it is better to send in fewer tests.
What are the paper strips in the test set for?
First and foremost, they are designed for washdown flush toilets, but they can also be used for other toilets, so that the sample does not come into contact with cleaning products.
When should I send off the sample?
As soon as it has been taken, please do not leave it unnecessarily.
At what age should I start taking steps to prevent bowel cancer?
From the age of 50, unless you are at an increased risk for any reason. From this age upwards your company health insurance fund will pay for a stool test to identify any hidden traces of blood in the stool.
These can be an indication of polyps or a carcinoma. From the age of 55 you are eligible for a colonoscopy. This permits the recognition and removal of the benign precursors to bowel cancer. With a
colonoscopy, pre-existing cancer is generally recognised early enough that it can be cured completely.
If there is a higher risk due to a history of bowel cancer in the family or a chronic inflammatory bowel condition, you should undergo a colonoscopy considerably earlier, at age 40 to 45 if there is a history
of bowel cancer in the family.
With what symptoms should I go to the doctor?
It is worth consulting a doctor if you have any lasting problems or irregularities with the digestive tract. Doctors specialising in examinations of the digestive tract are known as gastroenterologists. Your
gastroenterologist will discuss with you which examinations should be carried out to investigate any problems you may have.
Symptoms that make it necessary to carry out a colonoscopy are, for example:
• Visible blood in the stool
• Noticeable changes in stool habits, such as alternating between diarrhoea and constipation
• Ongoing pain in the abdominal area
If you have had a test for hidden blood in the stool and this came back positive, it is essential that a colonoscopy is carried out to determine the cause.
How do I know that I’ve got a genetic predisposition?
You can find a questionnaire to help you determine whether there is an increased risk of bowel cancer in your family HERE.
In around 30 percent of bowel cancer cases, colon carcinomas and polyps have already been found in other family members. This means all those directly related to the patient – i.e. parents, siblings and
children – also have an increased risk of bowel cancer. Just one direct relative with bowel cancer increases a person’s own risk of developing the disease by two or three times. If you have a genetic
predisposition, you should have a colonoscopy as early as possible. A simple stool test is not to be recommended here.
How do I find the right doctor for a preventative examination?
The annual stool test that is provided as a statutory service to all those aged 50 and above can be acquired from doctors who carry out screening, i.e. GPs, gynaecologists and urologists. Colonoscopies are
carried out by gastroenterologists. These practitioners must be certified for the execution of colonoscopies. You can find a nationwide doctor search for certified gastroenterologists near to you HERE.
Is the examination painful?
Because the insertion of the endoscope can be unpleasant for patients, the doctor will offer you an injection that will send you into a light sleep. You will then sleep through the examination. The entire
examination lasts no longer than twenty minutes.
Is a stool test from my GP not a sufficient means of prevention?
The test for hidden blood in the stool offers no certainty that no carcinomas or polyps have formed in your colon. This test is only able to identify traces of blood if existing tumours and polyps bleed,
which they do not always do. For this reason, it is also recommended that the test be repeated annually. If a test comes back positive, the cause must be established by means of a colonoscopy. This is
the most effective means of prevention, since it enables doctors to also identify the benign precursors to bowel cancer (polyps). By removing the precursors, they can then prevent the polyps developing
into cancer later on.
Can the colon be harmed during the examination?
In the hands of an experienced doctor, a colonoscopy is a very safe, minimally intrusive means of examination. Complications only occur in exceptional circumstances.
How many litres do I need to drink when preparing for the examination?
Many patients report that the preparation for the colonoscopy is the most unpleasant part of the procedure. Careful preparation and rinsing of the colon is an important prerequisite for a successful colonoscopy,
though, because otherwise the examining doctor may miss existing polyps and carcinomas. The rinsing solution amounts to two litres. In order to balance out the loss of fluid through the purging procedure, you will
also need to drink up to two litres of clear fluid, ideally still water.
As a diabetic, what should I be careful of?
Patients with diabetes mellitus type 2 are among those people who are at a higher risk of developing intestinal disorders compared to the rest of the population. Colon carcinomas and polyps often occur more frequently
and grow more quickly among these people. To determine the risk, experts recommend that people with type 2 diabetes undergo a colonoscopy before beginning a course of insulin therapy.
How often should I have a colonoscopy?
In normal cases the recommendations of statutory health insurance funds are sufficient: the first colonoscopy should take place from the age of 55, then the procedure should be repeated every ten years if there are no
findings of concern. Things are different where there is an increased risk. Here individual recommendations apply, which should be discussed with your doctor.
Can I go back to work after the examination?
Patients who do not have the sedative injection are fully able to work after a colonoscopy. If, on the other hand, you choose to take the short anaesthesia, you will not be fit for work immediately afterwards. You are also
forbidden from driving a car and are asked to bring someone with you to the appointment if at all possible.
If a polyp has been found in my colon, how is it removed?
Any polyps identified during the colonoscopy are removed during the examination. The colon is insensitive to pain, so the procedure is not painful. A fine wire loop is inserted through the working channel of the endoscope,
and is then placed around the polyp and pulled tight. A high-frequency current is then passed through the wire loop for a moment. The heat effect means the polyp is cut off and the blood vessels closed up. The removed
polyp is then drawn out of the colon along with the endoscope. Afterwards, the polyp is sent for fine-tissue analysis in the laboratory. There, tests are carried out to find out whether there are any existing cancer cells and
whether the polyp was removed in its entirety.
Who pays for the colonoscopy?
Since the colonoscopy is a statutory service, there are no costs to pay for it. You are eligible for this examination from the age of 55 and can repeat it free of charge after ten years. If you would like to undergo a
preventative colonoscopy before the age of 55 and you do not have a family history of bowel cancer, you can expect to pay costs of around € 330.
What is a virtual colonoscopy?
The virtual colonoscopy is a “colonoscopy from the outside”. Using computer tomography (CT), scans of the abdominal area are produced, which can then be transformed into a spatial image of the inner colon by means
of a 3D computer programme. The doctor can then examine the colon wall for any changes directly on the screen. It is important for the sake of precision in the images that the colon is completely clean before the examination.
The virtual colonoscopy recognises carcinomas and larger polyps with similar precision to the normal colonoscopy, but does involve exposure to radiation and is therefore only recommended to patients who cannot undergo a
normal colonoscopy at the time. The health insurance fund will only pay the costs of the examination if this is the case.
I’ve heard about a blood test. How can I get one?
The blood test is a new development, and an initial test has now been developed so that it is market-ready. The way it works is the doctor takes a blood sample, which is then sent off to a specialist laboratory for testing. The
sample may or may not show biomarkers associated with bowel cancer. The test result also provides information on whether you are currently at an increased risk of bowel cancer or not. Regular repetition of this examination
makes it possible to monitor the risk and to recognise any changes early on. There is also the opportunity to submit a blood sample directly to a diagnostics laboratory specialising in this examination and to have the result sent to your home address. The cost of the test is around € 150-160.
What is a capsule endoscopy?
The capsule endoscopy is a new procedure for the prevention of bowel cancer, which is currently still in the trial phase. The capsule is swallowed like a pill and is fitted with two tiny cameras. These send images from the colon to a recording device the patient wears on his or her body. Whilst the capsule sends between 50,000 and 60,000 images from the colon, the patient is able to move about freely and does not have to wait in the clinic whilst the capsule makes its way through the colon. Each capsule is used once only. Health insurance funds will currently only pay for a capsule examination of the small intestine, but not the colon. Since the capsule endoscopy is not yet a well-established procedure, the price is still very high.
How do I get the action code?
You get this in writing from your health insurance fund. You can find an overview of participating health insurance funds on our start page.
Please consult your company health insurance fund directly if you do not have an action code.”