Cancer screening

We offer routine cancer screening in conjunction with the NHS Cancer Screening Programme.

  • Cervical cancer – we offer cervical smear tests to women aged between 25-64 and you will be automatically invited for screening if you are registered with us. From 25-49 the tests are every 3 years, and from 50-64 every 5 years. Women over 65 will have smears if they have had recent abnormal ones or if they have not been screened since age 50. We do not offer cervical screening to women under 25 years as cervical cancer is very rare in this age group and there is a much higher chance of receiving false positive results which would result in tests and treatments that may cause future problems with pregnancies. Read more about cervical screening
  • Breast cancer – Breast cancer screening is offered every three years to women aged 50 to 70 to detect early signs of breast cancer. Women aged 70 and over can self-refer. Breast cancer screening uses an X-ray test called a mammogram that can spot cancers when they are too small to see or feel. There’s a good chance of recovery if the cancer is detected in its early stages. Read more about breast cancer screening
  • Bowel cancer – patients will receive a home testing kit every 2 years. This is to look for very small amounts of blood in your poo which can be an early sign of bowel cancer. You will receive the full instructions with the kit. If the test is abnormal you will be invited for a colonoscopy to look at the bowel in detail. A positive result does not always mean you have bowel cancer as there are lots of non-cancerous causes of bleeding from the bowel (for example haemorrhoids). Read more about bowel cancer screening using FOB (faecal occult blood) testing
  • Prostate cancer – there is no routine screening programme for prostate cancer. There is a test we can do called the PSA test – which stands for prostate specific antigen. This is usually raised in prostate cancer but can be raised by many other causes. The reason we do not have routine screening in this country is that the risks of harm are higher than the benefits. If you think you would like a PSA test please read this leaflet “Should I have the PSA test?” and if you want to go ahead please discuss with your GP.

Cancer screening is used for patients who have no symptoms and aims to detect early cancers. It is not a test we use to investigate suspected cancer and we know that people can develop cancer outside of the screening groups. The tests are not 100% perfect; sometimes they will miss cancers, and sometimes the tests will be positive even if there is no problem. If you have any symptoms or concerns about cancer we would encourage you to book an appointment with the doctor.

Worried about cancer?

Changes to your body’s processes or the development of new symptoms can sometimes be an early sign of cancer, for instance unexpected weight loss, unexplained and persistent pain, change in bodily functions (e.g. bowel habit, digestion), a new lump appearing on your body and unexplained bleeding. Lots of these symptoms can be explained by causes other than cancer so if you are worried, please make an appointment to see your doctor. During the appointment they will listen to your concerns, ask some more questions and order tests as needed.

Reducing the risk of cancer

Making some simple changes to your lifestyle can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer. For example health eating, taking regular exercise, reducing alcohol consumption and not smoking will help lower your risk. Read more about how a healthy lifestyle can help reduce your chances of developing cancer. If you need help with losing weight or stopping smoking, please book a nurse appointment where we can offer practical support.

Living with cancer

If you have been diagnosed with cancer your treatment will mainly take place at the hospital. You may need to attend the surgery for blood tests and your GP is able to offer support and advice working together with the hospital team. We are very lucky to have some great local services who can offer support during your cancer treatment.

Force Cancer centre – Corner House, Barrack Road, Exeter EX2 5DW Tel: 01392406151

FORCE offers information, emotional support and practical advice to anyone affected by cancer, at any point in their lives. The service is free and confidential and available to patients, their families and carers. For full information about the services please visit their website.

Hospiscare – Searle House, Dryden Road, Exeter Devon EX2 5JJ Tel: 01392688000 (8am – 8pm weekdays, 10am – 7pm weekends and holidays) Email

Hospiscare offer specialist care and support for patients and their families who have a terminal illness. They have a team of community nurses who can provide support at home. For more information please visit their website

Macmillan Cancer Support

Offer advice and strategies on coping with cancer and access to support groups.


Contact us today on 01392 255722 or get in touch online for quality caring healthcare.