Cancer screening means testing for a specific type of cancer on people who do not have any symptoms. Screening aims to catch cancer in the early stages when the chance of cure is the highest.
There are currently three cancer screening programmes:
A mammogram (XRAY of the breast) is offered to women between the ages of 50 and 70 every 3 years although the age range is changing to include more women. For more information see the NHS breast cancer screening pages.
Your local screening unit will call women aged 50 and above to invite them to a screening session. Women over 70 can continue to have a mammogram every 3 years so make sure you call the local screening unit and make an appointment.
It is very important for all women to be breast aware and examine themselves regularly. If you notice any changes contact your GP immediately.
View NHS Choices website for more information about breast cancer screening.
There are 2 different tests that are used to screen for bowel cancer.
In England, everyone aged 60-69 is sent a testing kit every 2 years. You will need to collect a very small sample of your stool and wipe it on the special card provided and then send it off to be tested. If there are any abnormalities in the sample, you will be invited to have further tests.
Examining inside of the bowel
This new screening service will start in Wandsworth this year. If you are about to turn or have just turned 55, you may be invited to have a 'flexible sigmoidoscopy'.
This involves having a thin tube inserted in your bowel to look for any abnormalities and if necessary remove small samples of the bowel wall to send for further testing. This is a one off test that your GP will do unlike the stool sample testing.
More information on bowel screening.
A 'smear test' is performed by the GP (or nurse) to screen for cervical cancer.
This involves having an instrument called a speculum inserted into the vagina and removing cells from the cervix using a soft brush.
Women aged 25-49 will be invited for this test every 3 years and those aged between 50-64 will be invited every 5 years.
The test can be done at your GP Practice, a family planning clinic and sexual health clinics. The results will be sent to your GP and you should contact them for the results.
More information on cervical screening.