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Bowel and Cervical Screening

Bowel Screening

The aim of bowel cancer screening is to detect cancer early before you experience any symptoms. When cancer is found at this stage, treatment and survival have a greater chance of success. 

What does it involve?

It involves taking an easy and simple test at home. You will be sent a FIT home screening kit every two years. FIT requires a single sample that is easily collected and is then returned in a sealed bottle. 

If you are older than 75, you will not automatically be sent a test, but if you can be screened if you wish to. To get a test sent out call the bowel screening helpline on 0800 707 60 60.

Some facts and figures...

  • Bowel screening can detect bowel cancer at its earliest stage - when there is a 9 in 10 (90%) chance of curing it
  • Screening can prevent some bowel cancers from developing
  • With regular screening, the number of people who die from bowel cancer is reduced by 16%
  • Up to 31st October 2018 in the Scottish Bowel Screening Programme:
    • Over 2.4 million people invited 
    • Of those, nearly 1.6 million took up the offer and got a check
    • Around 6,000 cancers were diagnosed through screening
  • The new bowel testing kit FIT is more exact and easier to use than the previous kit (known as FOB) - it has the potential to detect twice as many cancers and four times as many as the current test.

Bowel screening cannot detect all bowel cancers. You should always go see your GP if you have any bowel symptoms, even if you have had a negative result.

Cervical Screening

Also known as the Smear test, screening for cervical cancer saves around 5,000 lives every year in the UK and prevents 8 out of 10 cervical cancers from developing.

It does this by picking up changes to your cells even if you look healthy and have no symptoms.

The smear test can save your live, and the procedure takes five minutes. You will be asked to privately undress waist down and have a sheet to cover yourself (this is done behind a private screen). You will asked to lie on an examination bed. The nurse will gently insert a speculum into your vagina to hold it open, so they can see your cervix. They will then gently brush cells from the cervix using a soft brush. These cells will then be sent to the lab for investigation. Note - it is not advisable to book your smear whilst you are on your period

Smears are designed to pick up changes of abnormal cells. It is very common for your smear result to come back with changed or abnormal cells, this does not necessarily mean that it is cancer. It is designed to monitor changes and keep you healthy, by picking up on any cell changes. If needed, you may be referred on to colposcopy but check with your GP. 

You will still need a smear test even if you are lesbian/bisexual, already had the HPV vaccine or haven't been sexually active for a while. You are unlikely to need a smear if you have never been sexually active (being sexually active INCLUDES other types of sexual contact, skin-to-skin, oral and anal, or using sex toys), or if you have had a hysterectomy - but check with your GP first. 

All women in Scotland aged 25 to 49 are offered a cervical screening every three years routinely, or more often if you have had previous abnormalities, to keep your health in check. 

Information regarding screening for transgender patients:

For more information, please click here

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