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What other diseases and conditions can be detected by screening?

Screening to identify whether people without symptoms have disease is not confined to breast screening. Screening programmes also exist for bowel cancer, cervical cancer, aortic aneurysms (a

Image showing a microscope

A Pathologists’ microscope

dangerous bulge and weakness in the main artery of the body) and diabetic eye problems (A full list of health conditions screened for in the UK can be found on the GOV.UK website).

This is because, like breast cancer, it is possible to identify a group of patients for these conditions where the disease is more likely to occur. Screening is also a good idea for these conditions because there are safe and accurate screening tests, and there are treatments which can significantly increase survival rates or even cure the disease.

For this reason, women between 25 and 64 are invited for cervical cancer screening, men and women between 60 and 74 are invited to submit samples for colorectal cancer screening, men over 65 are invited for an ultrasound scan to screen for abdominal aortic aneurysm and all people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes aged 12 or over are invited for eye screening. Some of these ages vary in across the different countries of the UK.

How screening works

Screening as a sieve

A good explanation can be found on the GOV.UK website, and it goes something like this: A screening test is like a sieve, most people pass through the sieve with no disease found and no further tests required, but a small number of people get caught by it. These people are the ones whose screening test show that they have a higher risk of having the condition. They have further tests, and if it is confirmed that the disease is found, then they are treated appropriately. If further tests show that the condition isn’t actually present, then no further action is required.

Talking to friends and family about screeningImage showing a mother & daughter

Sadly, the number of people attending for screening for some of these other screening tests are not very good, especially cervical and bowel cancer screening. Perhaps you can talk to your friends and family to see if they have considered taking these safe tests.