NHS Health checks
The NHS Health Check is your chance to get your free midlife MOT. If you are in the 40-74 age group, without a pre-existing condition, you can expect to receive a letter from your GP or local authority inviting you for a free NHS health Check. Don’t worry if you haven’t got your invitation yet, as you will be invited for one over the next few years.
As we get older, we have a higher risk of developing something dangerous to our health. Your NHS Health Check can spot early signs of high blood pressure, heart disease or type 2 diabetes and help prevent these happening to you. You’ll be given advice and support to help you lower your risk and maintain or improve your vascular health.
Your NHS health check can be repeated every 5 years, providing you have not developed a long term condition (we provide specialist checks for these).
Bowel cancer screening
The NHS offers two types of bowel cancer screening to adults registered with a GP in England:
- All men and women aged 60-74 are invited to carry out a faecal occult blood (FOB) test. Every two years, they’re sent a home test kit, which is used to collect a stool sample. If you are aged 75 or over, you can ask for this test by calling the freephone helpline on 0800 707 60 60
- An additional one-off test called bowel scope screening is gradually being introduced in England. This is offered to men and women at the age of 55. As of March 2015, about two-thirds of screening centres were beginning to offer this test to 55-year-olds. It involves a doctor or nurse using a thin, flexible instrument to look inside the lower part of the bowel.
- Taking part in bowel cancer screening reduces your chances of dying from bowel cancer, and removing polyps in bowel scope screening can prevent cancer.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening
This is a way of detecting a dangerous swelling (aneurysm) of the aorta- the main blood vessel that runs from the heart, down through the abdomen to the rest of the body.
- An AAA usually causes no symptoms, but if it bursts, it’s extremely dangerous and usually fatal.
- Men aged over 65 are far more likely to have an AAA than women or younger men- so any man registered with a GP will receive a letter inviting him for a screening in the year he turns 65.
- Men aged over 65 can request a scan by contacting their local screening centre directly on: 0191 445 2554
- Screening involves a simple ultrasound scan of your stomach (abdomen), which takes about 10-15 minutes.
- If your abdominal aorta is not enlarged, you don’t ever need to be tested again.
- If you have a small to medium aneurysm, you’ll be regularly monitored to check it doesn’t get dangerously larger.
- If you are found to have a large aneurysm, you’ll be seen by a vascular surgeon (a specialist in blood vessels) within two weeks. They will advise on whether you would benefit from treatment to reduce the risk of it bursting.
All women who are registered with a GP are invited for a cervical screening:
- Aged 25 to 49– every three years
- Aged 50 to 64– every five years
- Over 65– only for women who haven’t been screened since age 50 or those who have recently had abnormal tests.
- Being screened regularly means any abnormal changes in the cells of the cervix can be identified at an early stage and, if necessary, treated to stop cancer developing. However, cervical screening isn’t 100% accurate and doesn’t prevent all cases of cervical cancer.
You’ll receive a letter through the post from the local health authority asking you to make an appointment for a cervical screening test. If possible, try to book an appointment during the middle of your menstrual cycle (usually 14 days from the start of your last period), as this can ensure a better sample of cells taken.
This is currently offered to women aged 50-70 in England. However, the NHS is in the process of extending the programme as a trial, offering screening to some women aged 47-73.
You will first be invited for screening between your 50th and 53rd birthday, although in some areas, you’ll be invited from the age of 47 as part of the trial extension of the programme. You may be eligible for breast screening before the age of 50 if you have a higher-than-average risk of developing breast cancer.
If you’re over the age of 70, you’ll stop receiving screening invitations. However, you’re still eligible for screening and can arrange an appointment by contacting your local screening unit.
Tel: 01524 583050/ 583047
Breast Care Unit
Royal Lancaster Infirmary