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Cancer Screening – Cervical, Prostate & Breast

Cancer Screening – Cervical, Prostate & Breast

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Cervical Screening

Women are encouraged to attend for regular cervical screening or smear tests. There are over 2,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed each year in the UK, and most of these women have never attended for cervical screening.

During the cervical screening test a plastic brush is used to remove some cells from the cervix. The cells are sent to the laboratory and examined under a microscope to look for early changes that if left untreated, could possibly develop into cancer of the cervix.

An abnormal result does not mean cancer in nearly all cases. Abnormal cells indicate that cervical cancer may develop at some point in the future. With regular screening and treatment of any abnormal cells that are identified, the risk of developing cervical cancer is greatly reduced.

The test is recommended for all women – even if you have never had sex before.  The cervical screening test should be performed when you are not having your period – the best time for the test is mid-cycle.  If you are pregnant, you should delay your cervical screening test until you are at least 12 weeks postnatal.

We also screen for human papillomavirus (HPV) when we perform a cervical smear.

Should your cervical smear be reported as abnormal, or the presence of high risk HPV identified, we will arrange appropriate follow up for you.  This may involve regular cervical screening or a referral to Gynaecology for colposcopy.


Prostate Screening

The prostate gland is only found in men. It sits just below the bladder and is normally about the size of a walnut.

Often the prostate gland increases in size with age. In fact, the majority of men after the age of seventy have an enlarged prostate gland, which can lead to urinary symptoms.  This enlargement however is non cancerous in most cases.

Cancer can develop in the prostate gland and prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK. It is largely a disease of older men and is rare before 50 years – most cases develop in men over the age of 65 years.  Often it causes no symptoms and present only when the cancer has spread to other organs. It is therefore important to screen for signs of prostate cancer regularly.

Signs that may suggest prostate cancer include:

  • Urinary symptoms including poor urinary flow, difficulty starting to pass urine, dribbling at the end of the stream, urinary frequency and a sense of urgency when you need to pass urine
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Pain in the lower back or testicles
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue, lethargy, weight loss, poor appetite.

Screening for prostate cancer involves a blood test and also a rectal examination.  The rectal examination is needed to check whether the prostate gland is enlarged or feels abnormal.  The blood test measures the level of PSA, which is made by the prostate gland, in the blood stream.

If the PSA is normal, you are unlikely to have cancer.  If the PSA is raised this can mean that you might have prostate cancer.  There are a number of other things aside from cancer that cause the PSA to be raised.  The higher the level of PSA, the more likely it is to represent a cancer.  If the PSA comes back as raised we will refer you to a Urologist for further investigations.


Breast Cancer Screening

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. There is a one in eight risk of developing breast cancer for women in the UK.

Breast cancer can present with symptoms of;
  • Breast lumps
  • Nipple changes
  • Nipple discharge
  • Skin changes
  • Breast pain
It is important to remember that these symptoms can also be caused by a number of benign (non-cancerous) conditions. If you have any concerns about your breasts, this appointment enables us to take a comprehensive history and examine your breasts to help determine the likely cause. We are able to make referrals for imaging or to a Breast Surgeon when we feel this is indicated.

Regular breast screening with mammography picks up cancers at an earlier stage, before they can be felt and before they produce any visible changes. The earlier the stage at which breast cancer is treated, the better the likelihood of long-term survival. We are happy to arrange referrals for routine screening if you have no specific or worrying symptoms.

£130 (Any imaging will incur an additional cost)