Some cancers can be prevented through healthy lifestyles such as maintaining a healthy weight through healthy eating and regular physical activity, stopping smoking as well as drinking within recommended limits.
Early detection and treatment of cancer is important and can make a real difference. If you notice a change or difference in your body, you should contact your GP.
There are three national cancer screening programmes (bowel, breast and cervical cancer) which you can find out more about below.
NHS Bowel Cancer Screening
Bowel cancer screening is a way of detecting bowel cancer at an early stage, or sometimes preventing cancer from developing in the first place. Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age.
Download the Easy Guide to bowel cancer screening
There are two types of test used in the NHS bowel cancer screening:
- bowel scope screening: carried out in a hospital, a thin tube with a camera at the end looks inside your bowel. If you are 55 you will be automatically invited to a one-off bowel scope screening test (if available in your area)
- home testing kit: carried out in the privacy of your own home using a testing kit received through the post. Traces of blood in the stools can be a sign of bowel cancer, but screening can help pick up the disease at an early stage when it’s easier to treat. If you are ages 60 to 74 you’ll automatically be invited to do a home testing kit every 2 years.
People over the age of 70 years can also request a testing kit every 2 years by calling the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.
More information about bowel cancer screening can be found on the NHS website.
NHS Breast Cancer Screening Programme
Breast cancer screening uses a test called a mammogram, which takes x-rays of the breasts. Screening can help detect breast cancers early when they are too small to see or feel.
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest possible stage have a 9 out of 10 chance of surviving for at least five years after diagnosis.
The NHS provides free breast screening every three years for all women aged 50 to 70 years. If you are over the age of 70 and live in Camden you can request a breast screen by contacting the Central and East London Breast screening service and calling 020 3758 2024.
Currently, breast screening has been paused due to COVID-19. If you have received a text message, phone call or letter advising that their breast screening appointment is cancelled please be advised that you will receive another invitation in due course once breast screening resumes.
Anyone of any age with concerns about their breasts should contact their GP immediately.
More information about breast screening is available from the National Breast Cancer screening website.
NHS cervical cancer screening
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to detect abnormalities that may, if left untreated, develop into cancers. A cervical screen (also called a smear test) involves a sample of cells being taken from the cervix.
Cervical screening is available to all women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 in England. All eligible people registered as a female with a GP automatically receive a postal invitation for a screening.
If you have a cervix, but are not registered with your GP as female, then you may not be included in cervical screening IT systems e.g. if you are a trans male (assigned female at birth), if you are registered as male, or if you identify as ‘non-binary’. In these circumstances, the GP practice or a healthcare team managing gender reassignment should send screening invitations.
The first invitation is sent to eligible people at the age of 24 and a half years. People ages 25 to 49 receive invitations every 3 years. People aged 50 to 64 receive invitations every 5 years.
Women aged between 25 to 64 years, who are registered with a GP in Camden will be invited to attend screening at their GP practice.
For more information, visit the National Cervical Cancer screening website.