Screening for cancer

Cancer screening involves testing apparently healthy people for signs of the disease.

It can save lives by finding cancers at an early stage, or even preventing them. Screening is not the same as the tests a person may have when doctors are diagnosing or treating cancer.

The UK has 3 screening programmes

  • Bowel cancer screening
  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical screening

There is no screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK because the PSA test is not reliable enough. Men over 50 can ask their doctor about it.

More information

We have built some pages to cover important information about the 3 screening programmes. These include national information as well as locally built videos to answer questions.

Bowel Cancer Screening

NHS bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer. It’s available to everyone aged 60 to 74 years.

The programme is expanding to make it available to everyone aged 50 to 59 years. This is happening gradually over 4 years and started in April 2021.

Breast screening (mammogram)

NHS breast screening checks use X-rays to look for cancers that are too small to see or feel.

Cervical screening

Cervical screening (a smear test) is a test to check the health of the cervix and help prevent cervical cancer. It’s offered to women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64.