Breast screening

Breast screening is a way of checking for breast cancer and can help find lumps which might not be large enough to feel or be seen. These can be cancerous.

Breast screening means having regular x-rays called mammograms which some women can find uncomfortable.

Let the breast screening service know if you:

  • need additional support to access and attend screening
  • have a pacemaker, other medical device or breast implants
  • have had a mammogram in the last six months
  • are currently under the care of a breast consultant.

If you are trans or non-binary you can have breast screening if you were:

  • Assigned female at birth and have not had surgery to remove your breasts
  • Assigned male at birth and have taken feminising hormones for 2 years or more.

Know what’s normal for you and if you notice changes in how your breasts look or feel contact your doctor.

Cervical screening

A cervical screen (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix. The cervix is the opening to your womb from your vagina. You should get regular tests when you are eligible to do so.

It is not a test for cancer, it's a test to help prevent cancer as it can help identify changes in your cervix which may suggest pre-cancerous changes.

The screening involves taking a small sample of cells from your cervix. This will be checked for certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) that can cause changes to the cells of your cervix. These are called "high risk" types of HPV.

If the high-risk types of HPV are found, the sample is then checked for any changes in the cells of your cervix. These can then be treated before they get a chance to turn into cervical cancer.

Prostate screening

There is currently no routine screening programme for prostate cancer in the UK, because there is simply not enough evidence to suggest that the benefits of screenings would outweigh both the costs to the NHS, as well as the risks of both false-diagnoses and missed-diagnoses. You can find out more information about the UK’s reasoning behind not offering a prostate screening programme.

Prostate cancer often has no symptoms until the cancer has grown enough to put pressure on urethra (the tube that the urine from the bladder, out of the penis).

Symptoms of prostate cancer can include:

  • needing to pee more frequently, often during the night
  • needing to rush to the toilet
  • difficulty in starting to pee (hesitancy)
  • straining or taking a long time while peeing
  • weak flow
  • feeling that your bladder has not emptied fully
  • blood in urine or blood in semen

These symptoms do not always mean you have prostate cancer. Many men's prostates get larger as they get older because of a non-cancerous condition called benign prostate enlargement.

Signs that the cancer may have spread include bone and back pain, a loss of appetite, pain in the testicles and unintentional weight loss.

If you have symptoms that could be caused by prostate cancer, you should visit a GP.

There's no single, definitive test for prostate cancer. The GP will discuss the pros and cons of the various tests with you to try to avoid unnecessary anxiety.

The GP is likely to:

  • ask for a urine sample to check for infection
  • take a blood sample to test your level of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) – called PSA testing
  • examine your prostate by inserting a gloved finger into your bottom – called digital rectal examination.

The GP will assess your risk of having prostate cancer based on several factors, including your PSA levels and the results of your prostate examination, as well as your age, family history and ethnic group.

If you're at risk, you should be referred to a hospital to discuss the options of further tests.