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Screening programmes

Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to the body.

As some people get older the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak. It can then start to expand and form what is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA). The condition is most common in men over the age of 65 and often has no symptoms. Large aneurysms are rare but can be very serious. If they rupture they cause massive internal bleeding which is usually fatal. Read more about the symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of abdominal aortic aneurysms on the NHS Choices website.

In Wiltshire the AAA Screening Programme is provided by Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust. It aims to reduce deaths from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms by up to 50% by detecting them early and monitoring and treating them appropriately. Women are not invited for screening because 95% of ruptured AAA occur in men over 65.

During the year they turn 65, all men in Wiltshire will receive a letter from the NHS inviting them for AAA screening, providing they are registered with a doctor. Screening involves an ultrasound scan that takes around 10 minutes. Scans are carried out at different locations around the county and your invitation letter will give you more details.

Men over 65 who have not been screened previously can arrange a screening appointment by contacting their local programme directly.

Further information is also available from the national NHS AAA Screening Programme website.

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Cancer screening

Cancer screening programmes aim to prevent or detect cancer at a very early stage when the chance of a cure is highest. For this reason, all eligible people invited to screenings are encouraged to take part in the programmes.

There are three cancer screening programmes delivered by the NHS

  • the NHS Breast Screening Programme
  • the NHS Cervical Screening Programme
  • the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme

The Public Health team in Wiltshire works to improve awareness of these national screening programmes by promoting the importance of going to screenings and by providing advice and guidance to the general public and practice staff.

Breast screening takes place at a special clinic or mobile breast screening unit. A mammogram (X-ray of the breast) is taken and is then studied to look for any abnormalities. The results of the mammogram will be sent to you and your GP.

The NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 and over.

For further advice and guidance on breast cancer, including the screening process and treatment visit the NHS breastscreening website.


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During cervical screening a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities. This test is commonly referred to as a cervical smear test.

Women aged between 25 and 49 are invited by letter for cervical screening every 3 years; women aged between 50 and 64 are invited every 5 years.

Visit the NHS cervical cancer screening website for further advice and guidance on cervical cancer, the symptoms and treatment available.

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Men and women aged between 60 and 69 are automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit through the post every 2 years. The kit comes with step-by-step instructions for completing the test at home and sending the samples to a labratory for processing. Results are sent out within two weeks.

Visit the NHS bowel cancer screening website for further advice and guidance on bowel cancer, the symptoms and treatment available.

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For all cancer screening, the NHS will automatically send an invitation letter to all eligible men and women who are registered with a GP. Therefore, it is very important that your GP has your correct name and address details and you must inform them if these change.

If you have been invited for screening, or have been for screening and have any questions about the result, you should contact the name and address shown on your invitation letter or result letter. If you are worried about a specific problem, or otherwise worried about the risks of cancer, then you should talk to your GP.

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Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person's blood sugar level to become too high. The amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by insulin, which is produced by the pancreas. When food is digested and enters the bloodstream, insulin moves glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy so we can work, play and generally live our lives.

If you have diabetes, your body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or the insulin produced does not work properly.

Diabetes can result in blindness, amputation, kidney failure and heart disease, and other conditions. Early diagnosis and good control of diabetes is essential to reduce the chances of developing complications and to improve people's chances of living a long and healthy life.

For more information on diabetes, including self assessment tests, an online clinic and details of services in your area, visit the NHS Choices website.

  •  often develops in people under 40 and is not preventable
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  • accounts for between 85 and 95 % of all people with diabetes and in many cases may be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight and an active lifestyle.
  • People with type 2 diabetes may complain of needing to pass urine all the time, excessive thirst, tiredness and repeated infections. However many people do not experience any symptoms so recognising those at risk is vital.
  • Overweight people, those of Asian descent and those with a family history of the condition are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. You can check your diabetes risk using the risk score calculator.
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In Wiltshire there are approximately 20,000 diabetics registered with GPs and an estimated 7,000 people who have the condition, but don't know it.

For many people diabetes is a preventable condition. We are working with the NHS Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group to raise awareness of the condition and how it can be avoided.

Keeping your waistline under 37 inches for men, or 32 inches for women, eating a healthy diet and regular physical activity will all help you to avoid type 2 diabetes. You can check your risk of diabetes on the risk score calculator.

You can find information about lifestyle advice and opportunities in your area of the county on the Wiltshire Intenlligence Network site.

The council also provides a wide range of opportunities for people to improve their health through the Active Health programme and other sports and activities.

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All people with diabetes are at risk of getting diabetic retinopathy, caused when diabetes affects the small blood vessels in the retina, the part of the eye that acts like a film in a camera.

It is the most common cause of sight loss in people of working age.

Screening is an effective way of detecting the condition as early as possible. All people aged 12 and over with diabetes (type 1 and 2), except those already under the care of a specialist eye doctor, are offered appointments to be screened every year.

It is important to attend the screening appointment because:

  • The disease progresses over a period of time and may not cause symptoms until it is close to affecting a person's sight.
  • Screening means diabetic retinopathy can be detected as early as possible.
  • Treatment is most effective when the disease is detected early.
  • The disease can cause blindness but this can be prevented with regular and early screening.

It is important not to confuse your screening appointment with the general eye tests you have with your optician. Screening doesn't replace your regular eye examinations and it is important to attend both.

For further information on diabetic eye screening and how diabetic retinopathy is treated visit the NHS diabetic eye screening website.

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The NHS Health Check

Free check in England for adults between the ages of 40 and 74 who do not already have one of these conditions or do not have certain risk factors.
To assess your risk of:

  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Certain types of dementia

For further information go to NHS Health Check.

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Last updated: 20 January 2017 | Last reviewed: 20 January 2017