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Screening is a process of identifying apparently healthy people who may be at increased risk of a disease or condition. They can then be offered information, further tests and appropriate treatment to reduce their risk and/or any complications arising from the disease or condition.

Spotting abnormalities early could help to save your life. Diagnosing cancer in its earlier stages often makes it easier to treat, meaning the chances of recovering are much better. Screening for cancer saves thousands of lives across the UK every year.

Here in Wales we currently have three National screening programmes related to cancer detection, offered routinely and free of charge to some sections of the population. They are managed, alongside a number of other screening programmes, by Public Health Wales, Screening Division.

In this section we provide signposts to help you find more information about cancer related screening programmes in Wales.

General information about screening programmes in Wales can be found on the website Screening for Life that also includes information for people with learning disabilities and for transgender service users.

Breast Screening Wales

Breast Screening Wales
North Wales Breast Screening Centre
Maes Ddu Road
LL30 1QZ
Breast Test Wales

Breast cancer can affect women of any age but is more common in women aged over 50. It affects one in nine women in Wales at some time in their lives. If breast cancer is found at an early stage, treatment has the greatest chance of being successful. The best way of screening for breast cancer is by having regular mammograms, as you may not be able to see or feel early changes.

Breast Test Wales aims to offer screening every three years to women aged between 50yrs and 70yrs. An appointment will be sent through automatically using GPs lists. Women may be 52 years of age by the time they receive their first appointment. Women aged over 70 can request an appointment for screening by contacting the Breast Screening Centre.

Whatever age you are, if you are worried about any breast problem you should contact your doctor, who may refer you to your local hospital breast clinic.

The Breast Test Wales and NHS Breast Screening websites provide additional information including video clips about what screening will involve. Information is in a range of languages and resources are available for people with learning difficulties.

Breast Screening: The Facts is an interactive online guide to the benefits and risks of NHS breast screening which has recently been launched by Breakthrough Breast Cancer, a major National breast cancer charity.

Bowel Screening Wales

Bowel Screening Wales
Unit 6 Greenmeadow
CF72 8XT

Freephone 0800 294 3370 (Monday to Friday 8am – 5pm)
Bowel Screening Wales

“Don’t die of embarrassment….”

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in Wales.

However, if it is picked up early, it is also one of the most treatable.

Screening detects bowel cancer at an early stage – often when there are no symptoms – and yet when treatment is most effective.

A bowel screening Wales test kit is currently offered to men and women who are resident in Wales aged between 60 and 74 years old. A bowel screening Wales test kit will be sent automatically through the post. You will be able to carry out the test at home and in private.

If you have any of the following symptoms it is advisable to see your GP immediately rather than wait for your screening test. The symptoms can be associated with a wide range of conditions but it is best to have them checked out. Early diagnosis means better outcomes.

  • Bleeding from your back passage or flecks of blood in your bowel motion (faeces or stools).
  • A change in your regular bowel habit, such as constipation or diarrhoea, for a period of 6 weeks.
  • Stomach pains which are severe, continual and started recently, especially after eating.
  • Unexplained weight loss.
  • Unexplained anaemia

The Bowel Screening Wales website provides more information about the screening test and includes resources in a range of languages.
The NHS Bowel Screening website includes additional information in a variety of formats, including video and audio clips, British Sign Language and information for people with learning disabilities.

Cervical Screening Wales

Cervical Screening Wales
Dr Louise Pickford
Regional Programme Coordinator
Cervical Screening Wales
Hendy Road

Cervical Screening Wales

Cervical screening (also known as the ‘smear test’) is not a test for cancer. It can detect possible abnormalities or changes in cells which may develop into cancer if they are not treated. Most results are normal and almost all abnormalities are successfully treated.

Statistics from Cancer Research UK suggest that cervical screening can prevent at least:

75% of cervical cancers in women in their 50s and 60s
60% of cervical cancers in women in their 40s
45% of cervical cancers in women in their 30s

Screening can also detect cervical cancers at an early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Cervical Screening Wales invites women aged 25-64 for cervical screening. Women aged 25-49 are invited every 3 years, and women aged 50-64 are invited every 5 years. Invitations are sent out automatically based on information from GP lists. If you have chosen to have a smear taken privately in the past, you are still entitled to have an NHS smear, and so you will still receive an invitation when your NHS smear is due.

If you ever have irregular or unusual bleeding or discharge it is best to see your GP, even if you have had a recent negative smear test.

The Cervical Screening Wales website provides more information about the screening test and offers information resources in a variety of languages.

The NHS Cervical Screening website includes additional information in a variety of formats, including video and audio clips, British Sign Language and information for people with learning disabilities.

PSA Test for Prostate Cancer

Even though prostate cancer is the most common cancer for men there is currently no screening programme in the UK because it has not been proven that benefits would outweigh the risks.

If you are worried about prostate cancer, you can go and talk to your GP about the risks and benefits of having a PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.

The PSA test shows the amount in the blood of a protein produced by prostate cells. If the level of PSA is higher than normal it could be due to a prostate cancer. But there are other causes of raised PSA, such as infection, a non cancerous enlarged prostate and even exercise and sex. So if you have a raised PSA level you will need to have more medical tests to find the cause.

Some of the symptoms for prostate cancer include:

  • needing to go for a pee more often, especially at night – for example if you often need to go again two hours after urinating
  • difficulty starting to urinate
  • straining or taking a long time to finish urinating
  • a weak flow when you urinate
  • a feeling that your bladder has not emptied properly
  • needing to rush to the toilet – you may occasionally leak before you get there
  • dribbling urine

The following links will tell you more about the PSA test:

NHS Choices – Should I have a PSA test?
Prostate Cancer UK – The PSA test

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