The UK has three cancer screening programmes:
The bowel cancer screening test is called the faecal immunochemical test (FIT). The FIT looks for tiny traces of blood in the sample of poo which can be a sign of bowel cancer.
You don’t need to respond to your screening invitation to take part. You will automatically be sent a testing kit (about 2 weeks later). You do the test in your own home. The test is clean and simple. You only need to collect one sample of poo
Bowel screening is routinely offered every 2 years, to 60-74 year olds in England and 50-74 year olds in Wales.
Find out more: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bowel-cancer-screening/
Cancer screening involves testing apparently healthy people for signs that could show that a cancer is developing.
Breast screening uses a test called mammography which involves taking x-rays of the breasts. Screening can help to find breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel. These tiny breast cancers are usually easier to treat than larger ones.
It is important to remember that screening will not prevent you from getting breast cancer but aims to find early breast cancers.
Overall, the breast screening programme finds cancer in around 9 out of every 1,000 women having screening.
The NHS Breast Screening Programme invites all women from the age of 50 to 70 for screening every 3 years. This means that some people may not have their first screening mammogram until they are 52 or 53 years.
Find out more: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/breast-screening-mammogram/
Cervical screening is a way of preventing cancer. It tests for a virus called human papilloma virus (HPV). High risk HPV can cause cervical cells to become abnormal. Virtually all cases of cervical cancer are linked to high risk HPV.
The NHS cervical screening programme invites women from age 25 to 64 for cervical screening. Depending on where you live and your age, you get an invite every 3 to 5 years. You need to be registered with a GP to get your screening invitations.
Find out more: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/cervical-screening/
Check your eligbility for screening and find out more about the UK screening programmes on the Cancer Research UK website.
Page last updated: November 2022