The UK currently has 3 cancer screening programmes in the UK- Cervical, Breast & Bowel cancer screening.
Women aged 25-64 are invited through a letter in the post for cervical screening. Every three years up to the age of 49 and every five years from age 49-64. Women need to be registered with a GP to receive these invites. The NHS has further information about screening for transgender people.
The NHS routinely invites women aged 50-70 years old for screening every 3 years. You need to be registered with a GP. The test is called a mammogram and involves taking x-rays of the breasts. Screening can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. It may also detect other conditions which are not cancer.
Those older than 70 can have screening. To make an appointment please speak with your GP. For women aged under 50, mammograms are more difficult to read as the breast tissue is denser. There is little evidence to support the use of screening in younger women as a way to reduce deaths from breast cancer.
Overall, the breast screening programme finds cancer in about 8 out of every 1,000 women having screening.
There are separate bowel screening programmes for the different countries in UK. In England men and women aged 60-74 are invited to take part. They are sent a home testing kit every 2 years. The kit can spot the early signs of bowel cancer when treatment is more likely to work and save your life. The kit involves taking samples of poo from three different days and placing them on the card and then posting the sample off to be tested. A new test will be used in 2019 which will only require one day’s sample. The test will show if there are traces of blood in your poo. This could be caused by a number of things, including cancer.
People aged over 74 can request a screening kit by contacting the bowel screening programme on 0800 707 6060.
There is currently no screening programme for prostate cancer because the test is not reliable enough but men over 50 can ask their doctor about it. This is especially relevant to men who have a Brother or Father who have had prostate cancer. There is an increased risk for men from black communities.
Report outlining health inequalities in regards to screening attendance.