The National Breast Screening Programme was introduced in 1988 as an early detection service for breast cancer. It states that all women who are aged between 50 – 70 years of age will be routinely invited for free breast screening every three years. The programme is very successful and currently saves around 1,400 lives per year.
Breast screening aims to find breast cancer at an early stage, often before there are any symptoms. To do this, an x-ray is taken of each breast (mammogram). Early detection may often mean simpler and more successful treatment. When women are invited for their mammogram depends on which GP they are registered with, not when their birthday is.
The screening office runs a rolling programme which invites women by area. The requirement is that all women will receive their first invitation before their 53rd birthday, but ideally when they are 50. If you are under 50 and concerned about any aspect of breast care, please contact the surgery to make an appointment with your GP.
Cervical screening test
Cervical screening, or smear test, is a method of detecting abnormal (pre-cancerous) cells in the cervix in order to prevent cervical cancer. The cervix is the entrance to the womb from the vagina. Cervical screening is recommended every three years for women aged 25 to 49 and every five years for women aged 50 to 64 or more frequently if smear results indicates abnormal changes.
Cervical screening is not a test for cancer; it is a test to check the health of the cells of the cervix. Most women’s test results show that everything is normal, but for 1 in 20 women the test will show some abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix.
Most of these changes will not lead to cervical cancer and the cells may go back to normal on their own. However, in some cases, the abnormal cells need to be treated to prevent them becoming cancerous.
Our nurses are qualified to carry out cervical screening and tests in the form of cervical smears. In order to have a cervical smear the patient must have received a letter requesting that they have a cervical smear and the appointment must please be made for when the patient is not menstruating.
These appointments typically take around 10 minutes. For any further information or to book an appointment, please call the surgery.
If you’ve forgotten to take your pill, your condom split or you’ve had unprotected sex in the last 72 hours then you may need emergency contraception, and the sooner you take it the better.
Emergency contraception is available free from Contraception and Sexual Health Services, some GPs (family doctors) and most pharmacies (chemists), even if you’re under 16.
If you’ve had unprotected sex or your condom failed, it is also really important to consider your risk for sexually transmitted infections and to think about your long-term contraception needs. Please phone the surgery to book an emergency appointment.
If you miss the 72 hours it is still possible to have an emergency coil fitted up to 5 days after unprotected sex. You can have an emergency coil fitted for free at your local sexual health clinic.