NHS Health and Cancer Screening

What are screening tests?

Screening tests check to see if you have a disease or condition before you have any symptoms of it. The idea is that a problem is picked up before it develops, or in the very early stages. In this way, certain diseases can be prevented before they ever occur, or treated before they start causing any problems.

Not all conditions have suitable tests which allow them to be detected early, and not all conditions can be treated successfully even if they are picked up. So only certain conditions are part of our national screening programmes

Here is a summary of the screening programmes taken from the NHS Website:

Diabetic eye screening

  • From the age of 12, all people with diabetes are offered an annual Diabetic Eye Test to check for early signs of diabetic retinopathy.

Cervical screening

  • Cervical screening is offered to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every 3 years for those aged 25 to 49, and every 5 years from the ages of 50 to 64.
  • Cervical screening is not a test for cancer. It is a method of preventing cancer by detecting and treating early abnormalities which, if left untreated, could lead to cancer.

Breast screening

  • Breast screening is offered to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women over 70 can self-refer.
  • You can contact the Public Health England (PHE) Screening Helpdesk if you have any questions about breast screening practice or policy on 020 3682 0890

Bowel cancer screening

  • Everyone aged 60 to 74 is offered a Bowel Cancer screening home test kit every 2 years.
  • If you're 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

  • AAA screening is offered to men during the screening year (1 April to 31 March) that they turn 65 to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms (a dangerous swelling in the aorta). Men over 65 can self-refer.

PSA Testing

  • There's 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.
  • PSA tests are unreliable and can suggest prostate cancer when no cancer exists (a false-positive result)
  • Click here for more information