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.
What is breast screening?
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 breast screening website.
What is cervical screening?
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.
What is bowel screening?
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.
How do I get a screening invitation?
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.
Last updated: 22 September 2013