Cancer screening

At certain times in your life, you will be asked to take part in cancer screening tests.

They can help detect the disease before symptoms have a chance to develop and when treatment is more likely to be successful.

If the tests come back clear, this can give you peace of mind.

There are three types of cancer screening for adults in England, and they save thousands of lives each year.

Make sure you are registered with a GP to ensure you are invited for cancer screening. 

What is bowel screening?

If you are a man or woman aged between 60 and 69, you will be 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 how to send the samples. Results are sent out within two weeks.

The aim of the screening is to detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms and when treatment is more effective.

Bowel cancer screening can also detect polyps which can easily be removed reducing the risk of bowel cancer developing.

Visit NHS Choices for more information on bowel cancer.

What is breast screening?

The NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 and over.

You will be invited to a special clinic or mobile breast screening unit for a mammogram (X-ray of the breast). This is then studied to look for any abnormalities. The results will be sent to you and your GP.

For further advice and guidance on breast cancer screening visit NHS Choices

Should I also be checking my breasts?

All women need to know how their breasts normally look and feel so that they can report any changes early to their GP. Visit NHS choices to find out more.

What is cervical screening?

If you are a woman aged between 25 and 49, you will be invited for cervical screening every 3 years. If you’re aged between 50 and 64, you are invited every 5 years.

During the screening, a small sample of cells is taken from the cervix and checked under a microscope for abnormalities. This test is sometimes called a smear test.

It's possible for women of all ages to develop cervical cancer, although the condition mainly affects sexually active women aged 30 to 45.

Visit NHS Choices for further advice and guidance. You can also get more information from the Jo’s Trust Charity.

Stay connected

Sign up for email updates about improving your health and wellbeing

Rate this page

The feedback you provide will help us continue to make improvements to our website.