What is screening?

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.

Aortic Aneurysm Screening

If you are a man aged over 65 you are more likely to have an abdominal aortic aneurysm.

The aorta is the main blood vessel that supplies blood to your body. It runs from your heart down through your chest and abdomen. In some people, as they get older, the wall of the aorta in the abdomen can become weak. It can then start to expand and form what is called an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The condition is most common in men aged 65 and above.

The NHS AAA Screening Programme invites men for screening during the year (1 April to 31 March) that they turn 65.

The screening test for AAA is a simple, pain-free ultrasound scan of the abdomen that usually takes less than 10 minutes.

Men over 65 who have not previously been screened or diagnosed with an aneurysm can request a scan by contacting Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes AAA Screening Programme directly on 01234 792207.

For more information on the NHS AAA screening program visit the NHS abdominal Aortic Aneurysm Screening Programme website.

Are they serious?

Large aneurysms are rare but can be very serious. As the wall of the aorta stretches it becomes weaker and could burst. If this happens, your chance of surviving is only about 20 out of 100. Surgery is the most common treatment to repair large aneurysms that are found through screening. Approximately 97 to 98 out of every 100 patients make a full recovery from AAA repair surgery.

An aorta which is only slightly larger than normal is not dangerous. However, it is still important to know about it and to monitor its growth at regular intervals.

Bowel Cancer Screening

Currently, everyone between the ages of 60 and 69 is offered bowel cancer screening every two years, and the screening programme is currently being extended in England to those aged 70 to 75.
Screening is carried out by taking a small stool sample and testing it for the presence of blood (faecal occult blood test).
In addition, an extra screening test is being introduced over the next three years for all people at age 55. This test involves a camera examination of the lower bowel called a flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Screening plays an important part in the fight against bowel cancer because the earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the greater the chance it can be cured completely. Bowel cancer affects 1 in 20 people in the UK during their lifetime.

It is the third most common cancer in the UK, and the second leading cause of cancer deaths, with over 16,000 people dying from it each year.

We know that regular bowel screening reduces the risk of dying from bowel cancer and that 80% of people who develop bowel cancer are 60 years of age or older.
Bowel screening can also detect polyps that may develop into cancer. Removal of these polyps can reduce the chances of developing bowel cancer.

Further information can be obtained at the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening (BCSP) Programme.

Breast Screening Service

The Beds and Herts Breast Screening Service is part of the National Breast Screening Programme and provides a free breast screening service for women aged between 50 and 70, serving residents in all of Bedfordshire and the majority of Hertfordshire. We aim to provide and promote an efficient and effective, high quality breast screening service, to all eligible women within a caring environment.

Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. To do this, x-rays are taken of each breast (mammogram). Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment.

For more information on the Breast Screening Service visit Beds & Herts Screening Service.

Cervical Smears

All women between the ages of 25 and 64 who have ever been sexually active should have a smear done. These are usually carried out every 3 years or more frequently if previous smears suggested this would be more appropriate.

Cervical smears assess the general health of the cervix and can pick up cervical abnormalities which may otherwise progress into cervical cancer.

The best time to have your smear done is around 2 weeks into your menstrual cycle i.e. approximately midway between the date of your last period and the date of your next expected period.

Cervical smears are undertaken by our practice nurses and the procedure takes about 20 minutes. To book a screening please contact reception.

For more information on cervical smears please visit NHS Cervical Screening.