What is cervical screening?
Cervical screening is not a test for diagnosing cervical cancer. It is a test to check the health of the cervix, which is the lower part of the womb (often called the neck of the womb).
For many women the test results show that everything is fine. But for around one in 20 women, the test shows changes in cells that can be caused by many things. Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer.
What is the NHS Cervical Screening Programme?
The programme makes sure that if you are:
- aged between 25 and 64, you will automatically receive an invitation.
- We will get your name from your doctor’s list. This means it is important that your doctor always has your correct name and address.
- After your first cervical screen, you will receive invitations every three years between the ages of 25 and 49. You will then be invited every five years between the ages of 50 and 64.
Should all women have the test?
We offer the test to all women aged between 25 and 64 but cervical cancer is more common if you:
- first had sex at an early age;
- Have had several sexual partners or have had a sexual partner who has had several other partners; or take immunosuppressant drugs (for example, after an organ transplant).
- If you have passed the menopause, you still need to be tested to check that your cervix is healthy.
- Ask your doctor for advice if you: have had a hysterectomy; are over 65; have never had sex with a man or woman; or you are not sure whether you still need to be tested.
More information and suppor:
If you have any questions about the service you can:
BOWEL CANCER SCREENING
What is the purpose of bowel cancer screening?
- Bowel cancer screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage (in people with no symptoms), when treatment is more likely to be effective.
- Bowel cancer screening can also detect polyps. These are not cancers, but may develop into cancers over time. They can easily be removed, reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing.
Is screening for bowel cancer important?
- About one in 20 people in the UK will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.
- It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year (Cancer Research UK, 2005. Cancer stats).
- Regular bowel cancer screening has been shown to reduce the risk of dying from bowel cancer by 16% (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2006. Screening for colorectal cancer using the faecal occult blood test: an update).
What is the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme?
The NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme offers screening every two years to all men and women aged 60 to 69. This age range is currently being extended to 60 to 74. People in the invitation age range are automatically sent an invitation, then their screening kit, so they can do the test at home. Your GP will provide your contact details, so it is important that he or she has your correct name and address.
After your first screening test, you will be sent another invitation and screening kit every two years until you reach 69.
- (74 in areas where age extension has already started).
Who is at risk of developing bowel cancer?
- Both men and women are at risk of developing bowel cancer.
- Your risk of developing bowel cancer increases with age. Eight out 10 people who are diagnosed with bowel cancer are over 60.
- People with a family history of bowel cancer have an increased risk of developing the disease.
- People who take little exercise, people who are overweight, and people who have a diet high in red meat and low in vegetables, fruits and fibre are all thought to have an increased risk of developing bowel cancer.
What are the symptoms of bowel cancer?
The most common symptoms of bowel cancer to look out for are:
- a persistent change in bowel habit, especially going to the toilet more often or diarrhoea for several weeks;
- bleeding from the back passage without any obvious reason;
- abdominal pain, especially if it is severe; and a lump in your abdomen.
Please remember that these symptoms do not necessarily mean that you have bowel cancer, but if you have one or more of these symptoms for four to six weeks, you should see your GP.
If you are over the invitation age range, you can ask for a screening kit every two years by calling the Freephone number: 0800 707 60 60; talk to your GP or visit the NHS Cancer Screening Programmes website at:
visit the NHS Choices website at: www.nhs.uk, or call 0845 46 47;
visit the MacMillan Cancer Support website at: www.macmillan.org.uk, or call 0808 808 0000;
visit the Cancer Help website at: www.cancerhelp.org.uk, or call 0808 800 4040;
visit the Bowel Cancer UK website at www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk, or call 0800 8 40 35 40;
visit the Beating Bowel Cancer website at: www.beatingbowelcancer.org,or call 08450 719 300;
Why does the NHS offer breast screening?
The NHS offers screening to save lives from breast cancer. Screening does this by finding breast cancers at an early stage when they are too small to see or feel. Screening does not prevent you from getting breast cancer.
Breast screening does have some risks. Some women who have screening will be diagnosed and treated for breast cancer that would never otherwise have been found, or caused them harm.
Why have I been invited for breast screening?
All women aged 50 to 70 are invited for breast screening every 3 years. Some older and younger women are also being invited as part of a study of screening in different age groups.
If you are over 70, you are still at risk of breast cancer. Although you will no longer automatically get screening invitations after you are 70, you can still have breast screening every three years. You will need to ask your local breast screening unit for an appointment.
What is breast screening?
Breast screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram to check the breast for signs of cancer. It can spot cancers that are too small to see or feel.
What will happen if I choose to have breast screening?
When you arrive at the breast screening unit, the staff will check your details and ask you about any breast problems you have had. If you have any questions, please ask.
Mammograms are carried out by women called mammographers.
To have a mammogram, you need to undress to the waist. So it may be easier to wear a skirt or trousers instead of a dress.
The mammographer will first explain what will happen. She will then place your breast onto the mammogram machine and lower a plastic plate onto it to flatten it. This helps to keep your breast still and get clear X-rays.
The mammographer will usually take two X-rays of each breast -- one from above and one from the side. She will go behind a screen while the X-rays are taken. You have to keep still for several seconds each time.
The whole appointment takes less than half an hour and the mammogram only takes a few minutes.
Who can I contact if I have a question?
- If you have questions about screening, please contact your local breast screening unit. If you would like to talk to someone about whether to have breast screening, your GP can help. Together, you can weigh up the possible benefits and risks, to help you decide.
- You can find more detailed information on breast screening, including the sources of evidence used in writing this leaflet at:
- The NHS Breast Screening Programme: nhs.uk/breastscreen
- Informed Choice about Cancer Screening: org
- You may also find the following charity websites provide helpful information about breast screening.
- Cancer Research UK -- cruk.org
- Healthtalkonline -- healthtalkonline.org
- Breakthrough Breast Cancer -- breakthrough.org.uk
- Breast Cancer Campaign -- breastcancercampaign.org
- Breast Cancer Care -- breastcancercare.org.uk