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Cancer 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:

1. Breast screening – Mammograms

  • Women aged 50-70 will be invited by letter every 3 yrs when the mobile unit is in WGC.
  • Women over 70 are still entitled to have screening and they may request an appointment if they phone 01582 497599
  • There is currently a pilot study running so some women aged 47-50 may receive an appointment too.
  • Any woman 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.
  • GP’s re unable to refer a patient directly for mammograms. If any woman of any age is concerned about a breast symptom (even if she has had a mammogram with the last 3 years), she should book an appointment with her doctor.

2. Cervical Screening – Smear tests

  • These are offered to women in the age group of 25-64 years and these women should receive a letter requesting that they book an appointment at the practice.
  • 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 4 of our nurses; Heather, Emily, Ruth and Felicity in any of their day or weekend clinics. There are also some appointments available on a Monday evening and in the Extended Access service most evenings and weekends. For women who have regular periods, the best time is approximately mid-way between periods. If you are not sure if your smear is due, please ask the receptionists who can check
  • If you don’t think that you need a smear test for any reason, the please discuss this with a doctor or nurse
  • If a woman has any unexpected vaginal bleeding, then please book an urgent appointment with a doctor

3. Bowel Cancer Screening – faeces/poo test

  • This is offered to all men and women aged 60-75
  • You will be sent a self-administered faecal occult blood (FOB) test kit which asks you to collect 3 small samples of your faeces/poo and return it in the post. Using this, it is possible to detect very small amounts of blood which may be an early sign of bowel cancer
  • If you don’t recall receiving a kit or think you may have lost it then you can request a new kit by calling the NHS Bowel cancer screening programme on (Freephone) 0800 707 6060 who will be happy to advise you how to use the kit
  • Anyone over 75 can also request a kit by calling this number
  • A lot of people don’t return their kit. Please don’t be squeamish about poo; it may save your life!
  • If any patient sees any blood in their faeces then please book an urgent appointment to see a doctor.
  • Sigmoidoscopy – In a lot of areas including East and North Herts, anyone aged 55yrs and over is also invited for a one-off screening with a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy.
  • This procedure is where a doctor in a hospital day room, looks into the rectum and sigmoid colon, using an instrument called a sigmoidoscopy. It is slightly uncomfortable but identifies and removes any small polyps that could otherwise have developed into cancer.

All of us at Spring House would recommend that all of our patients attend all their screening appointments every time they are invited. Let’s beat cancer together.

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