Screening Tests for Adults

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Not everyone in this age group may need screening for every condition listed here. Click on the links above to read more about each condition and to determine if screening may be appropriate for you or your family member. You should discuss screening options with your health care practitioner.

Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is an extremely important disease being the most common cancer in women. In 2010 it was estimated that it accounted for 31% of all cancers in women. The incidence of breast cancer is rising and it is now the second most common cause of death in women after lung cancer.

The aim of breast cancer screening is to detect breast cancers in women without symptoms at an early stage and by doing this improve survival rates. The combination of breast screening together with improved treatment strategies means that increasing numbers of women are now surviving breast cancer. In the first ten years since the introduction of the NHS Breast Screening Programme, research has shown that death from breast cancer has fallen by 21%. Currently survival rates for breast cancer are higher than those of all the other major cancers in women. The incidence of breast cancer increases with age. Eighty per cent of cases occur in post-menopausal women. Therefore, currently the NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening every three years for all women in the UK aged 50 and over. This is done by use of a mammogram which is a special x-ray of the breast. This x-ray may detect very small abnormalities that may not be felt by the woman. It is important to remember that whilst the abnormalities detected may represent cancer they may also represent benign (non--cancerous) disease. Any woman who has had an abnormality detected on a mammogram will need further tests such as a biopsy to confirm whether cancer is present.