Cancer screening is a good way of identifying signs of cancer in apparently healthy people. Screening can save lives by finding cancer at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be successful.
The UK currently has three cancer screening programmes:
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.
Bowel cancer screening is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74 years. A home testing kit called FOB test is sent every two years. The test is used to check for the presence of blood in a stool sample, which could be an early sign of bowel cancer. As long as you’re registered with a GP and your GP has 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 FOB 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 26 and 49 years, and every five years to those between the ages of 50 and 64. You will receive an invitation from your GP practice to book in for an appointment. Alternatively, you can book an appointment at your local sexual health clinic. Appointments should be booked before or after your period.
You can find out more about each of these by clicking the links below.