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Screening is the process of identifying healthy people who may have an increased chance of a disease or condition

It can save lives by finding cancers at an early stage, or even preventing them.  Screening is not the same as the tests a person may have when doctors are diagnosing or treating cancer.  You can find out more about the screening services available in Guernsey by clicking on the links below.

  • Breast Screening

    • Symptoms of breast cancer and reducing your risk
      • Be breast aware
      • Being breast aware is about knowing what your breasts look and feel like.  Checking them regularly can help you detect when something changes.
      • Checking once a month is enough, for pre-menopausal women 7-10 days after your cycle is ideal.
      • Any changes may be harmless, but you should get them checked by your GP straightaway.
    • Things you should look out for are:
      • Changes in appearance or shape of your breast, like puckered or dimpled skin
      • Discomfort or pain that's unusual, particularly if it is new and persistent
      • Changes to your nipple like discharge, a rash, red areas that won't heal, or a change in your nipple position (pointing differently or pulled in).
    • You can develop breast cancer at any time.  For women of screening age, this can include the time in between breast screening appointments.
    • If you notice any changes in your breasts that are not normal for you, speak to your GP straightaway.
    • NHS Breast Cancer Symptoms  
    • Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms
    • How to reduce your risk
    • Breast cancer is not a preventable disease.  However, you can help lower your risk of breast cancer in the following ways:
      • You will be invited for breast screening if you are registered with a GP and are aged between 50 and 75 years. Thereafter you can request imaging biannually
      • Be breast aware - check your breasts regularly even if you are in the screening programme
      • Maintain a healthy weight - increased body weight and weight gain as an adult are linked with a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause
      • Exercise regularly - studies have shown that regular exercise can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer by as much as a third
      • Reduce the amount of alcohol you drink - even low levels of alcohol intake have been linked with an increase in risk
      • Stopping smoking - smokers are at increased risk of breast cancer, along with many other types of cancer
      • Breastfeed your babies, where possible - studies have shown that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer than those who don't
      • Talk to your GP if you think you have a family history of breast cancer.
  • Bowel Screening

    • As a result of new scientific evidence, the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme has changed from the Flexible Sigmoidoscopy (Flexi-sig) test to the Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT). This test can detect tiny amounts of blood, not visible to the naked eye, in your stool (poo) which may be an early sign of pre-cancerous growths (polyps) or bowel cancers. The FIT is being introduced over the next two years from June 2018 and will enable HSC to test a far wider section of the population. The sample is simple to complete at home and is already used successfully in screening programmes worldwide.
    • Overview
    • Bowel cancer screening involves having tests to check if you have or are at risk of developing bowel cancer.
    • Bowel cancer screening is offered to eligible men and women in the Bailiwick of Guernsey to help find bowel cancer early when it can often be treated successfully. You're 14 times more likely to survive bowel cancer if it's found early.
    • Why it's offered and who is at risk?
    • Bowel cancer is one of the most common cancers in Guernsey. It affects both men and women and it is more common in people over 50 years of age, especially men. About 1 in 20 people will develop bowel cancer during their lifetime.
    • Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage, when it's easier to treat successfully. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time if left untreated.
    • Risk factors
    • Some risk factors are unavoidable, such as age, sex or family history. However, as well as doing your bowel cancer screening test you can reduce your risk of developing bowel cancer by:
      • Eating a healthy diet containing whole grains like wholegrain bread and cereals, beans, pulses and plenty of fruit and vegetables
      • Maintaining a healthy weight
      • Keeping active and sitting less
      • Drinking less alcohol or none at all
      • Stopping smoking
      • Telling your GP if you've any worries about your bowel habits
    • Who will be screened?
    • Eligible men and women will be invited for bowel cancer screening every 2 years.
    • What does bowel cancer screening involve?
    • Bowel cancer screening simply involves collecting a stool (poo) at home and sending a tiny sample of it to the hospital. A machine then looks for hidden blood in your sample.
    • The test aims to find:
      • Bowel cancer at an early stage in people with no symptoms.
      • Other changes in the bowel, such as pre-cancerous growths called 'polyps'.
    • Most bowel polyps can be removed easily, which can prevent cancer from developing.
    • Your screening invitation
    • If you're eligible, the bowel cancer screening programme will send you a free test kit to your home address. This is the address you used to register with your GP.
    • If you've moved house, please inform the screening programme as soon as possible (even if you have told your GP) so that you don't miss your screening invitation.
    • Benefits and risks
    • As with any test, there are benefits and risks involved in bowel cancer screening. It's important that you're aware of these before you accept a screening invitation.
    • -Benefits
    • It is easy and free to take part. The screening sample can be collected in the privacy of your own home, and the test can help to find:
      • bowel cancer early, even if you don't have symptoms — 9 out of 10 people survive bowel cancer if it's found and treated early
      • changes in the bowel — such as non-cancerous growths called polyps
    • Most polyps can be removed so they can't develop into cancer in the future.
    • -Risks
    • The bowel cancer screening test will pick up most cases of polyps or bowel cancer but can't find them all. The test looks for hidden blood in your poo and not all polyps and cancers bleed or they may just bleed intermittently. Changes can also happen between screening tests.
    • This means cancer can sometimes be missed, so it's important that you:
      • Repeat the screening test every 2 years.
      • Never ignore symptoms that could indicate bowel cancer - like blood in your poo (stool), a change in bowel habits, abdominal (tummy) pain or unexplained weight loss or tiredness.
      • Contact your GP as soon as possible, if you develop any of these symptoms.
    • Taking the bowel cancer screening test
    • Collecting the sample at home is quick and easy. Once collected you send the sample to the laboratory for analysis, using the prepaid return envelope, as soon as possible.
    • Replacement FIT kits
    • If you've made a mistake, misplaced or didn't receive your screening test, you can request a replacement sample kit by contacting the bowel cancer screening programme on 707740 or email
    • After the test
    • Your result should be posted to you and to your GP within 10 working days of sending off your kit.
    • Test results
    • Most people will have a negative result so will be told that they don't need any further investigation. If this happens you'll be sent another test in 2 years' time.
    • If your test result is positive (needs further investigation), you will be offered an appointment with the specialist nurse who will explain the result. This does not necessary mean you have bowel cancer.
    • If your test is void (something was unsatisfactory with the test), you may be asked to repeat the test and you will be sent a replacement kit.
    • If you don't receive your results letter, or have questions about your results, contact the Bowel Cancer Screening Office on 707740 or email
    • Further investigation
    • It is likely that at your appointment with the specialist nurse, you will be offered a colonoscopy. If you're invited for a colonoscopy, you'll receive information about the benefits and risks of the procedure before your appointment so you can think of questions to ask the nurse at your appointment. You are welcome to bring a partner or friend with you.
    • Very occasionally colonoscopy is inappropriate for some people. In this situation you may be offered an alternative investigation.
    • Colonoscopy
    • A colonoscopy is an examination of the bowel using a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end. It is performed by a consultant in hospital and is the most effective way of looking for the cause of your bleeding (positive FIT).
    • A colonoscopy takes about half an hour and will require a day patient unit appointment. You may be sedated for this but you shouldn't need to stay in hospital for more than a few hours.
    • Before coming to the hospital you'll need to empty your bowel. You'll be given clear instructions about how to do this before your appointment.
    • If you wish to proceed, and are fit to do so, you will then be offered a date and time for the colonoscopy examination to be carried out by a consultant at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital.
    • You may need to arrange for someone to take you home after your colonoscopy and stay with you. If you are given a sedative, this may make you drowsy for several hours and you will be not to be allowed to drive, make important decisions or sign anything until 24 hours after your colonoscopy.
    • Colonoscopy results
    • After your colonoscopy, the consultant will tell you the results and explain any findings to you before you leave.
    • For more information on colonoscopy please read our "colonoscopy leaflet".
    • Further information
    • If you have any questions about the bowel cancer screening test or would like to leave feedback about the bowel cancer screening programme, contact the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme by:
      • Email -
      • Phone - 707740 (open Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm)
      • Post - Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, Princess Elizabeth Hospital, Le Vauquiedor, St Martin, Guernsey GY4 6UU
    • Bowel cancer screening leaflet and FIT kit instructions
    • The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme has produced leaflets explaining what you need to know about the bowel cancer screening test including instructions explaining how to complete the test. These can be found at the top of this page under downloads.
      • Bowel cancer screening leaflet
      • Colonoscopy leaflet
      • Bowel screening FIT kit instructions
      • FAQs
    • Useful links
  • Cervical Cancer and Screening

    • Free cervical screening has been introduced in Guernsey and Alderney for women aged between 25 and 65.
    • Symptoms of cervical cancer, how to reduce your risk and early signs of cervical cancer: what to look out for
    • There are often no symptoms associated with having abnormal cervical cells or even with early stage cervical cancer.
    • However, in some cases, there are some recognised symptoms linked to the disease that you should be aware of:
      • Bleeding at any other time, other than your expected monthly period
      • Bleeding after or during sex
      • Bleeding after the menopause
      • Unusual and/or unpleasant smelling vaginal discharge
      • Discomfort or pain during sex
    • What to do if you have symptoms
    • If you're experiencing one or more of these symptoms, they need to be investigated by your GP.  We understand you might find it embarrassing, but it's very important you see your GP as soon as possible.
    • Don't wait until your next cervical screening appointment.  See your GP who will assess if you need to be referred to gynaecology.
    • Reducing your risk of cervical cancer
    • You can reduce your risk of cervical cancer by:
      • Having regular cervical screening tests from age 25
      • Seeing your GP immediately if you have any of the symptoms listed above
      • Stopping smoking - smokers are at increased risk of cervical cancer
      • Having the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination when you're 12-13 years old.  The vaccine is offered at this age as its most effective when your cervix hasn't been exposed to the HPV infection through sexual contact
      • Reducing the number of sexual partners you have
      • Always using a condom to protect yourself from infections including HPV
    • Cervical screening
    • Who the cervical screening programme is for:
      • Cervical screening is offered to all women aged between 25 and 65 years.  If you are registered with a GP and your GP has your current address you will automatically receive an invitation.
      • You will be invited every three years between the ages of 25 and 49.  You will then be invited every 5 years between the ages of 50 and 65.
    • Risks and side effects of screening
    • No screening test is perfect.
    • A normal result doesn't mean that you definitely don't have, or will never develop cervical cancer.
    • Sometimes you'll be recalled for more tests, but these do not show any abnormalities.
    • Cervical screening has been used routinely worldwide.  Regular screening can stop up to 75% of cervical cancers developing, which is why it is important to attend screening when invited.
    • Symptoms between screening tests.
    • If you have symptoms between screening tests (such as discharge, bleeding after sex or bleeding between periods), you should see your GP as soon as possible.
    • Don't wait for your next screening test.
    • Why aren't women under 25 routinely screened?
    • Women under the age of 25 aren't routinely invited for screening as part of the Guernsey and Alderney Cervical Screening Programme.The reasons for this include:Cervical cancer is very rare in women under 25 so screening in this instance may cause more harm than good.
    • It is well known that almost all cervical cancer is caused by Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and since 2008 a vaccination programme has been underway for teenagers, which will greatly reduce their risk of cervical cancer when they are older.
    • While HPV infection is very common in women under 25, their immune systems will often clear the infection and the abnormal cells will go back to normal without treatment
    • What would make the biggest difference to survival for young women with cervical cancer is for symptoms to be fully recognised and treated.
    • Women aged 65 and over
    • Cervical cancer usually develops very slowly. Cervical screening prevents cervical cancer because it can find and remove abnormal cells before they have a chance to turn cancerous. It can takes between 10 and 20 years for HPV infection to develop into abnormal cervical cells, and then on into cervical cancer. As cervical cancer develops so slowly, it is highly unlikely that women over 65 who have been regularly screened will go on to develop the disease according to scientific evidence.
    • The routine cervical screening programme stops for women aged 65 or over who have had 3 consecutive negative smears.
    •  However, women who are 65+ we do offer screening on an individual basis for women who have not been screened since age 50 or have had recent abnormal tests.


Bowel Cancer Screening FAQs Bowel Cancer Screening FIT instructions Colonoscopy leaflet Bowel Screening leaflet

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