NHS Screenings

Breast Screening

Each year more than 2 million women have breast cancer screening in the UK. 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.  

Breast cancers found by screening are generally at an early stage. Very early breast cancers are usually easier to treat, may need less treatment, and are more likely to be cured. The current evidence suggests that breast screening reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer by about 1,300 a year in the UK. Almost all women diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest possible stage survive for at least 5 years after diagnosis and are likely to be cured.  

An NHS digital report found that more than 19,500 breast cancers were diagnosed through screening in England between 2018 and 2019. Most of these were found at an early stage. Treatment is likely to be more successful if the cancer is an early stage. 

Cancer Research 

How am I invited? 

An appointment letter will be sent out to patients due for a breast screening by the Breast Screening Programme via NHS England. You will then either attend your local hospital or a mobile van for a mammogram. It is not carried out at your GP surgery as specialist staff and equipment is needed. The results are then sent to you in the post and also forwarded to your GP surgery.  


Cervical Screening

The NHS cervical screening programme invites women aged between 25 and 64 for cervical screening. Screening also applies to other people within this age range who have a cervix, such as trans-men and some non-binary people.  

The screening test aims to pick up changes early that could develop into cervical cancer if left untreated. The test looks for HPV (Human papilloma virus). The results will tell you if you have HPV or not. They will also tell you whether there are any changes in the cells that could lead to cancer. 

Around 3,200 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer in the UK each year. That’s nearly 9 cases diagnosed every day. Cervical screening helps prevent cervical cancer from developing and saves thousands of lives every year in the UK. 

Cancer Research 

How am I invited? 

An appointment letter will be sent out to patients due for a cervical smear by the Cervical Screening Administration Service via NHS England. Patients can then contact the surgery to book a 30-minute appointment with a Practice Nurse. The results are then sent to you in the post and also forwarded to your GP surgery.  

Please note – if you are currently pregnant or under gynaecology for surgical treatment, the GP surgery will defer your cervical screening for you until it is appropriate for you to attend. 


Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel cancer screening can save lives. Screening aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when treatment has the best chance of working. The test can also find polyps (non-cancerous growths), which might develop into cancer. Polyps can usually be removed, to lower the risk of bowel cancer. 

Bowel Cancer UK 

The screening programmes send a bowel cancer testing kit every 2 years to people who can take part. You need to be registered with a GP to receive your screening invitations. The test is called FIT - Faecal Immunochemical Test. It looks for tiny traces of blood. You do the test at home. The kit contains instructions of what to do including a prepaid envelope to send the sample to the hospital. 

In England, you receive a bowel cancer screening kit if you're aged between 60 and 74 years. Some people aged 56 are also being invited. This is because NHS England is slowly expanding this programme over the coming years. Eventually, people aged between 50 to 74 will be invited. 

People aged over 74 can request a screening kit every 2 years by contacting the bowel cancer screening programme on 0800 707 6060 

Around 5 out of 100 (5%) bowel cancers are due to conditions passed on through families (inherited) People at high risk of bowel cancer have screening with colonoscopy. This test looks at the inside of the whole of the large bowel (colon). A specially trained healthcare professional (endoscopist) uses a flexible thin tube with a camera on the end to look at the bowel.  

Cancer Research 

Despite the bowel cancer screening kit being sent to your home between the ages of 60 and 74 years, please do not hesitate to contact your GP at any age if you are experiencing a persistent change in your bowel habits, blood in your stools, unexplained weight loss or abdominal pains/bloating.  

Remember - if it is unusual for you, speak to your doctor. 


PSA Testing

There is currently no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK. This is because it has not been proved that the benefits would outweigh the risks. Find out more