Cancer Screening

Information on Breast Screening, Cervical Screening & Bowel Screening

Nearly half of all cancers in England are diagnosed at an advanced stage, when the chances of survival are reduced. Cancer screening aims to detect early signs of cancer before a patient has any symptoms so that it will hopefully be found at a curable stage.
There are currently 3 official UK cancer screening programmes:

Prostate Cancer Screening

Breast screening – Mammograms

All Women aged from 50 to their 71st birthday will be invited by letter every 3 years when the mobile unit is in the local area.

  • You will first be invited for screening between the ages of 50 and 53
  • You may be eligible for breast screening before the age of 50 if you have a high risk of developing breast cancer
  • Women over 70 are still entitled to have screening and they may request an appointment (01582 497599)
  • There is currently a pilot study running so some women age 47-50 may receive an appointment too.
  • Any women over 50 who thinks that she may have missed her last mammogram appointment and has not had one within the last 3 years may phone the Breast Screening Service directly on 01582 497599 who will send them an appointment either to attend their centre at Luton or when the mobile unit is in a nearby town.
  • GPs cannot refer directly for mammograms. If any woman of any age is concerned about a breast symptom (even if she has had a mammogram within the last 3 years) then she should book an urgent appt with a doctor.

Cervical screening – Smear Tests

  • These are offered to women in the age group 25-64 and these women should receive a letter requesting that they book an appointment at the practice. The practice has signed up to the new text reminder service which will be sent about 2.5 weeks after the receipt of the invitation letter. It is important to keep the  practice updated of any changes of address or mobile phone number. 
  • For ages 25-49 it is every 3 years and 50-64 every 5 years.
  • You only need a smear test over 65 if you have not had one since 50.
  • Appointments can be booked with our Nurses in any of their clinics during the day. If you would prefer an evening or weekend appointment we can book you in to see the nurse at the Extended Access service based at Spring House Medical Centre - just ask reception.
  • If you are not sure if your smear is due please ask the receptionists who can check.
  • A smear can now be effectively taken at any time within your menstrual cycle.
  • If you don’t think that you need a smear test for any reason then please discuss it with a nurse or doctor.
  • If a woman has any unexpected vaginal bleeding then please book an urgent appointment with a doctor.

Bowel Cancer Screening

Bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer. It's available to everyone aged 60 or over. The programme is expanding to include 56 year olds in 2021.

You use a home test kit to collect a small sample of poo and send it to a lab. This is checked for tiny amounts of blood.

Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the bowel. They are not cancer, but may turn into cancer over time.

If the test finds anything unusual, you might be asked to have further tests to confirm or rule out cancer.

Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer  at any age – do not wait to have a screening test:

  • a persistent change in bowel habit – pooing more often, with looser, runnier poos and sometimes tummy (abdominal) pain
  • blood in the poo without other symptoms of piles (haemorrhoids) – this makes it unlikely the cause is haemorrhoids
  • abdominal pain, discomfort or bloating always brought on by eating – sometimes resulting in a reduction in the amount of food eaten and weight loss

Everyone aged 60 to 74 who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent a bowel cancer screening kit every 2 years.

Make sure your GP has your correct address so your kit is posted to the right place.

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.

If you're worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, speak to a GP for advice.

Bowel cancer screening guide in English and other languages is available: