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Spotting cancer early saves lives

Cancer screening

There are three types of cancer screening for adults in England, breast, bowel and cervical. Taking advantage of regular cancer screening programmes available to you can significantly improve the chances of catching any cancers in their early, and therefore more easily treatable, stages.

Breast cancer screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 years to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women aged 70 and over can refer themselves for screening. Women who are aged 50-70 and are registered with a GP are automatically invited for screening every three years. Breast screening continues to be offered during the COVID-19 pandemic. This animated video aims to reassure women about attending breast screening appointments while the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Safety measures are in place and it's important not to miss screening so that any abnormal signs can be picked up early.

Bowel cancer screening is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74 years. A home testing kit called Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is sent every two years. The test is used to check for blood in a stool sample, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer. As long as you’re registered with a GP and they have your home address, you should automatically be sent the home test kit by post. People aged 75 and older can still be screened for bowel cancer. They can request a FIT screening kit by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

Cervical screening (smear test) is offered to women aged 25 to 64 years to check the health of cells in the cervix. Detecting and removing abnormal cervical cells can prevent cervical cancer. Screening is offered every three years to women between the ages of 25 and 49 years, and every five years to those between the ages of 50 and 64. You will receive an invitation to book in for an appointment at your GP practice. You may also be able to book an appointment at your local sexual health clinic. Appointments should be booked before or after your period. 

Making cancer screening more accessible for people with a learning disability

The number of people with learning disabilities going for cancer screening is too low. It is important to support people with a learning disability to access cancer screening when invited. If you, or somebody you support, may benefit from a cancer screening, find out more about what to expect at a screening and the reasonable adjustments that can be made. This video covers information about all the three cancer screening programmes.