Bowel Cancer Screening
If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, before symptoms appear, it's easier to treat and there's a better chance of surviving it.
To detect cases of bowel cancer sooner, the NHS offers bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in England:
Taking part in bowel cancer screening reduces your chances of dying from bowel cancer, and removing polyps in bowel scope screening can prevent cancer. However, all screening involves a balance of potential harms, as well as benefits. It's up to you to decide if you want to have it.
What does the FOB screening test involve?
The home testing kit is used to collect tiny stool samples on a special card. The card is then sealed in a hygienic freepost envelope and sent to the screening laboratory.
It will be checked for traces of blood that may not be visible to the naked eye, but could be an early sign of bowel cancer.
You'll receive the results of your FOB test within two weeks of sending in the test kit. There are three types of result:
- Most people will have a normal result – no further tests are needed and you'll be invited to take part in screening again in two years (if you're still aged 60-74).
- A few people will have an unclear result – you'll be asked to repeat the FOB test up to twice more.
- A few people will have an abnormal result – you'll be offered an appointment to discuss colonoscopy at a local screening centre.
If you're outside the age range...
People aged 75 and older can still be screened for bowel cancer. They can request an FOB screening kit by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
People younger than 60 aren't eligible for the FOB screening test, but can have bowel scope screening (see below). If you have symptoms, are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, or worried about your bowel health in any way, speak to your GP.
If you require more information please visit NHS Bowel Cancer Screening
Breast cancer screening
Mammographic screening, where xray images of the breast are taken, is the most commonly available method of detecting an early breast lesion.
However, you should be aware that a mammogram might fail to detect some breast cancers.
It might also increase your chances of having extra tests and interventions, including surgery, even if you're not affected by breast cancer.
Women with a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer may be offered screening and genetic testing for the condition.
As the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women who are 50 to 70 years old are invited for breast cancer screening every three years.
Women over the age of 70 are also entitled to screening and can arrange an appointment through their GP or local screening unit.
The NHS is in the process of extending the programme as a trial, offering screening to some women aged 47 to 73.
If you are worried about any symptons please see your GP or if require further information please visit NHS Breast screening
A cervical screening test (previously known as a smear test) is a method of detecting abnormal cells on the cervix. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina.
Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer.
Testing for abnormal cells
Cervical screening isn't a test for cancer; it's a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women's test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes won't lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be removed so they can't become cancerous.
About 3,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK.
It's possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45. The condition is very rare in women under 25.
The cervical screening programme
The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and the number of women who die from the condition. Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980s, the number of cervical cancer cases has decreased by about 7% each year.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening:
- aged 25 to 49 – every three years
- aged 50 to 64 – every five years
- over 65 – only women who haven't been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests
Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing.
However, cervical screening isn't 100% accurate and doesn't prevent all cases of cervical cancer.
Screening is a personal choice and you have the right to choose not to attend.
If you have any symptons you are concerned about please see your GP or for further information visit NHS cervical screening