Cancer and cancer screening
What is screening?
Screening means looking for early signs of a particular disease in 'healthy' people who do not have any symptoms. Screening for cancer aims to find cancers as early as possible - when the chance of cure is highest. Sometimes screening programmes can find changes that would lead to cancer if they were not treated. So cancer screening aims to prevent cancer or detect it at a very early stage.
When is screening helpful?
There are many types of cancer. To be able to screen for a particular type of cancer we must have a test that can find that particular cancer early. This is why we can't screen for all types of cancer. We do not yet have reliable tests for most of them.
What can we screen for?
The UK has established national screening programmes for breast cancer, cervical cancer and bowel cancer. There are effective tests for these types of cancers.