Screening for Cancer and other Conditions

What is screening?

Screening is a way of checking people who are seemingly healthy, but may have an increased risk of a particular condition. The purpose is to offer early treatment, or given them information to help them make informed choices.



What types of screening does the NHS offer?


Screening in pregnancy

Pregnant women are offered the following types of screening:

screening for infectious diseases (hepatitis B, HIV and syphilis)

screening for Down's syndrome, Patau's syndrome and Edwards' syndrome

screening for sickle cell disease and thalassaemia

screening for physical abnormalities (mid-pregnancy scan)


Screening for newborn babies

Newborn babies are offered:

a physical examination, which includes the eyes, heart, hips and testes

a hearing test

a blood spot test to check if the baby has any of 9 rare conditions


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.


Screening for cancer

Cervical screening

Cervical screening is offered to women aged 25 to 64 to check the health of cells in the cervix. It is offered every 3 years for those aged 26 to 49, and every 5 years from the ages of 50 to 64.


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.


Bowel cancer screening

A home testing kit FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) is offered to men and women aged 60 to 74. The starting age will be widened to include people from 50 onwards.

Until a couple of years ago, there was another type of screening. Bowel scope screening uses a thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end to look at the large bowel. It used to be offered to men and women at the age of 55 in some parts of England.
Now, this is still used, but usually when people have symptoms, or after the FIT shows positive.


Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

AAA screening is offered to men in their 65th year to detect abdominal aortic aneurysms (a dangerous swelling in the aorta). Men over 65 can self-ref

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