Bowel cancer screening involves having tests to check if you have or are at risk of bowel cancer.

Why it is offered?

Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About 1 in 20 people will get it during their lifetime.

Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it is easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps which can turn into cancer over time.

Types of Screening Test

There are 2 type of test used in NHS bowel screening:

  • Bowel scope screening – a test where a thin, flexible tube with a camera at the end is used to look for and remove any polyps inside your bowel.
  • Home testing kit (the FOB test) – a kit you use to collect small samples of your poo and post them to a laboratory so they can check for tiny amounts of blood (which could be caused by cancer). If these tests find anything unusual, you might be asked to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer. NHS bowel cancer screening is only offered to people aged 55 or over, as this is when you are more likely to get bowel cancer:

When it is offered?

  • If you are 55, you will be automatically invited for a one-off bowel scope screening test if it is available in your area
  • If you are 60 to 74, you will automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years. There are no risks to your health using this kit.
  • If you are 75 and over, you can ask for a home testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60. Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age – DO NOT wait to have a screening test.

If you are too young for screening but are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, speak to your GP for advice.

Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age - DO NOT wait to have a screening test.

We are committed to providing health information about all health promotion and disease screening services available to our patients.  Being part of the NHS Screening Programme, we would like to take this opportunity to emphasise the importance of bowel screening for early detection o bowel cancers.  Early detection of cancer significantly affects the prognosis of the disease and hence the need to screen.


About 1 in 8 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.  If it is detected early, treatment is more successful and there is a good chance of recovery.

Breast cancer screening aims to find breast cancers early. It uses an X-ray test called a Mammogram that can spot cancer when they are too small to see or feel.

But there are some risks of breast cancer screening that you should be aware of:

As the likelihood of getting breast cancer increases with age, all women aged 50 to 70 and registered with a GP are automatically invited for breast cancer screening every 3 years.

In the meantime, if you are worried about breast cancer symptoms, such as a lump or area of thickened tissue in a breast, changes in the size or shape of one or both breasts, skin that appears like orange peel etc, or you notice that your breasts look or feel different from what is normal for you, DO NOT wait to be offered screening - see your GP.

Why is breast screening offered?

Most experts agree that regular breast screening is beneficial in identifying breast cancer early. The earlier the condition is found, the better the chances of surviving it. 

You are also less likely to need a Mastectomy (breast removal) or Chemotherapy if breast cancer is detected at a nearly stage.

When will I be offered breast screening?

Breast screening is currently offered to women aged 50 to 70 in England. But currently there is a trial to examine the effectiveness of offering women an extra screen before the age of 50 and one after 70.

You will firstly be invited for screening between your 50th and 53rd birthday, although in some areas you will be invited from the age of 47 as part of the trial extension of the programme.

You may be eligible for breast screening before the age of 50 if you have a very high risk of developing breast cancer. If you are over the age of 70, you will stop receiving screening invitations. You can still have screening after 70 if you want to, and can arrange an appointment by contacting your local screening unit or GP.

Breast Screening Results

After your breasts have been x-rayed, the Mammogram will be checked for any abnormalities. The results of your mammogram will be sent to you and your GP no later than 2 weeks after your appointment.


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 is not a test for cancer, it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix.

Most test results show that everything is normal, but for around 1 in 20 women the test shows abnormal changes in the cells, and so in some cases these need to be removed so that they cannot become cancerous.

Cervical Screening Programme

The aim of the NHS Cervical Screening Programme is to reduce the number of women who develop cervical cancer and reduce the number who die from it.All women who registered with a GP are invited for cervical screening.  Since the screening programme was introduced in the 1980’s, 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 3 years

* Aged 50 to 64 -  every 5 years

* Over 65 - only women who have recently had abnormal tests

Trans men who still have a cervix and are still registered as female with a GP will also be invited for cervical screening.  Trams men who are reistered as male will need to let a GP or Practice Nurse know so that they can organise the test.

Women over 65 who have never been for cervical screening can have the test. Ask a GP or Practice Nurse for more information.

Booking your test

You will receive a letter through the post asking you to make an appointment for a cervical screening test.  The letter should contain the details of the place you need to contact for the appointment, which will usually be carried out by a Practice Nurse or GP at your surgery.  You can ask to see a female GP or Nurse.

If possible, try to book an appointment during the middle of your menstrual cycle (usually 14 days from the start of your last period), as this can ensure a better sample of cells is taken.

It is best to make your appointment for when you do not have a period.

If you use a spermicide, a barrier method of contraception, or a lubricant jelly you should not use these for 24 hours before the test, as the chemicals they contain may affect the test.

The test usually takes around 5 minutes to carry out.

HPV testing

Changes in the cells of the cervix are nearly always by the human papilloma virus (HPV). There are more than 100 different types of HPV.  Some are high-risk types linked to cervical cancer, and some are low-risk types  linked to other conditions, like genital warts.  Most cervical cancers are caused by high-risk types HPV-16 and HPV-18.

After successful trials, HPV testing has been added into the NHS Cervical Screening Programme. If HPV is found in your sample, you should be referred for a Colposcopy for further investigation and, if necessary, treatment.

If no HPV is found, you will carry on being routinely screened as normal. If your sample shows more significant cell changes, you will be referred for colposcopy without HPV testing.

In some areas, a test for HPV is the first test on the screening sample.  This is called primary HPV screening.  In these cases, the sample is only checked for abnormal cells if HPV is found.

If HPV is not found, you will be offered a screening test again in 3 to 5 years (depending on your age).

In 2019, primary HPV screening will become the routine way of testing cervical screening samples across the whole of the Cervical Screening Programme/

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