Supporting Early Cancer Diagnosis

Cancer is a priority for the NHS – more and more people are surviving cancer than ever before, however even more lives can be saved by diagnosing cancer at the earliest stage possible and starting treatment as quickly as possible.

The NHS Long Term Plan ambition is to save thousands of lives each year by dramatically improving how cancer is diagnosed and treated. This ambition is that by 2028;

  • 75% pf people with cancer will be diagnosed at an early stage (Stage I and II)
  • An extra 55’000 people each year will survive for five years or more after being diagnosed with cancer

With this said, the key enabler to achieving faster diagnosis and treatement will be to achieve early diagnosis, enabling an increased range of treatments to improve long term survival and improved quality of life.

Primary care has an important role to play in these ambitions. By refining referral practices for suspected cancer and encouraging the uptake of national screening programmes, it is our hope that Winchester Rural North and East Primary Care Network will contribute to this aspiration.

National Screening Programs

Cervical Screening

  • Cervical screening (a smear test) checks the health of your cervix (the neck of the womb)
  • It’s not a test for cancer, it’s to help prevent cancer.
  • All women and people with a cervix aged 25 to 64 are eligible and should be invited by letter every three to five years.
  • During the screening appointment, a small sample of cells will be taken from your cervix.
  • The sample is 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 these 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.

Try not to be put off by cervical screening. It is one of the best ways to protect yourself from cervical cancer.

Take a friend, a relative or ask somebody to stay in the room with you, if this makes you feel more comfortable. We will always accommodate you for your cervical screening – please just ask.

Breast Screening

  • All women aged between 50 and 70 years old and registered with a GP, will be invited for NHS breast screening every 3 years.
  • During breast screening, you’ll have 4 breast X-rays (mammograms), 2 for each breast.
  • The mammograms only take a few minutes and are done by a specialist called a mammographer. The mammographer will be female.
  • Once women reach the upper age range, they are encouraged to continue three-yearly screening.

Bowel Screening

  • Bowel cancer screening checks if you could have bowel cancer and aims to detect bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms when treatment is more likely to be effective.
  • You can take the test, called a faecal immunochemical test (FIT), to collect a small sample of poo, in the privacy of your own home. The test is then easily sent to the lab, where it is checked for tiny amounts of blood.
  • Blood can be a sign of polyps or bowel cancer. Polyps are growths in the bowel. They are not cancer, but may turn into cancer overtime.
  • Everyone aged 60 to 74 who is registered with a GP and lives in England is automatically sent a bowel screening kit every 2 years. The programme also currently includes 56 year olds.
  • If you’re 75 or over, you can ask for a kit every 2 years by phoning the free bowel cancer screening helpline on 0800 707 6060.

If you’re worried about a family history of bowel cancer or have any symptoms, please come in and speak to your GP for advice.

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