Screening tests are used to prevent or find cancer early before you have any symptoms.

There are three national screening programmes for breast, cervical and bowel cancer.

Screening is checking your body before you have any symptoms. Getting screened regularly may help find breast, bowel and cervical cancers early when treatment is more likely to work best.

Bowel and cervical screening can also prevent cancer by identifying and treating abnormal cell changes before they become cancer.  


If you have any signs, symptoms or concerns, at any age, you should visit your doctor. Do not wait for your next screening test. 


National screening programmes

Recommended screening tests:

Screening test Age group How often
Cervical smear   25 - 69 years Every 3 years



45 - 69 years Every 2 years

Bowel screening

FIT test

60 - 74 years Every 2 years


Who is it for?

Cervical screening - anyone with a cervix including those who have had a hysterectomy where the cervix was not removed: this could include women and transmasculine or nonbinary people who were assigned the female gender at birth.  

Breast screening mammography - women, transgender men or nonbinary people assigned female at birth, who have not had an operation to remove the breasts. This can include people assigned male gender at birth who have taken feminising hormones.

Bowel screening: everyone regardless of their gender 

Some people are at higher risk for breast, bowel or cervical cancer because of family history or other factors. Talk to your doctor about your risk.  You may need to have tests more often and from a younger age. Do not wait until you are eligible for the screening programme. 


Visit here for information on the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test and here for skin checks.  

Last updated: December 22, 2022