Breast screening aims to find breast cancers early, when they have the best chance of being cured. Anyone between the ages of 50 and 71, and registered with a GP as female, will be invited for breast screening every three years. You'll get a letter in the post inviting you.
Breast screening uses a test called mammography, which involves taking x-rays of your breasts.
In England, all people with a cervix aged 25 to 49 will be invited for a cervical screening appointment every three years. People aged 50 to 64, and those who live in Scotland and Wales, receive invitations every five years.
Cervical screening is commonly called a smear test and checks the health of your cervix. Your cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina.
During your screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
This sample is checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. If these cells are found, they can be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.
Bowel cancer screening
UK screening programmes send a bowel cancer testing kit every two years to eligible people between the ages of 50 and 74. The age will vary depending on where you live in the UK.
- In Scotland, it’s offered to men and women aged between 50 and 74.
- In Wales, it’s offered to men and women aged between 58 and 74.
- In England, it’s offered to men and women aged between 60 and 74.
The kit comes in the post and is easy to do in the comfort of your own home.
In the kit, you’ll find a small stick which is used to collect a sample of your poo. It will come with full instructions, guiding you step by step on how to collect and return your sample correctly.
There are certain symptoms to be aware of that can indicate bowel cancer. Always see a GP if you have any of the following.
- Bleeding from your bottom or blood in your poo.
- Changes in your bowel habits.
- Persistent pain or bloating in your tummy.
- Fatigue or weight loss for no apparent reason.
PSA testing for prostate cancer
A PSA test is a blood test that measures the amount of prostate specific antigen (PSA) in your blood. A raised PSA level may suggest you have a problem with your prostate, but not necessarily cancer.
This is why it’s not offered as part of a national screening programme. But you can request one over the age of 50. You may also be offered a PSA test as part of a general health check.
There are advantages and disadvantages of having a PSA test. It’s a good idea to learn more about these before deciding to have it.
There are certain symptoms to be aware of that can indicate prostate cancer. Always see a GP if you have any of the following.
- Problems passing urine, such as needing to go urgently or often, or being unable to go at all.
- Blood in your urine.
- Pain when you wee.
- A urine infection.
These are also symptoms of much less serious conditions. But it’s always worth contacting a GP if you have them.