Healthy lifestyle changes can prevent many cases of cancer, screening aims to drive down cancer cases even further. National programmes are in place for breast cancer screening, cervical screening and bowel cancer screening to help identify cancer at an early stage when it's more treatable.
What can I do to reduce my risk of cancer?
Screening: take up the offer of cancer screening. By regularly attending appointments for cervical, bowel, and breast cancer screening, you have the best chance of spotting signs early when it’s more treatable or prevent cancer from developing at all.
Check yourself: Make sure you know the key symptoms of the main cancers and regularly check yourself for any changes. It's important to know your body and recognise any potential symptoms of cancer, such as lumps, change in bowel habit, unexplained weight loss, pain or bleeding. Get advice from your GP early about whether they might be serious. Find out more information on signs and symptoms of cancer.
Cervical screening (a smear test) is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. From the age of 25 all women registered with a GP will be invited for a cervical screening every three years. Between the age of 50 and 64, women will be invited every five years. Women over 65 will be invited to be screened if they haven’t been screened since 50 or have recently had an abnormal test result. Each year cervical screening saves 5,000 lives in the UK. Not going for cervical screening is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.
Bowel Cancer Screening
Taking part in bowel cancer screening reduces your chances of dying from bowel cancer, and removing polyps in bowel scope screening can prevent cancer. If bowel cancer is detected at an early stage, before symptoms appear, it's easier to treat and there's a better chance of surviving it. If you’re aged between 60 and 74, you will be invited to take part in bowel cancer screening every two years. If you’re aged 75 or over, you can request a screening test by calling the bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.
Breast Cancer Screening
About one in eight women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. There's a good chance of recovery if it's detected in its early stages. Women aged 50 to 70 are invited for a breast screening every three years. Women over the age of 70 can ask for an appointment.