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WHAT IS SCREENING?

The aims of medical / health screening are threefold:

  1. To identify pre-existing health problems
  2. To assess your risk factors for disease
  3. To provide recommendations on your lifestyle and health that will encourage a longer and healthier life.

It might take the form of a physical examination and/or appropriate tests, with either a wait for results and a consultation or an immediate result.

Screening is able to identify conditions such as cancers as early as possible, to improve the success of treatments and make the treatments less aggressive, as in breast and bowel cancer.

WHAT IS AVAILABLE ON THE NHS?

The NHS offers screening, free of charge, to identify pre-existing health problems of which you may not be aware, nor be exhibiting any symptoms.  The NHS screening may be as part of a national programme for specific demographic groups or may be opportunistic screening when a patient discusses a related problem with their GP.

Screening for the following are available on the NHS:

· Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA)

This is available to all men 65 or over.  It is a national programme and eligible people will be invited by letter.  You can self-refer by contacting your local centre.  Please click on this link for more information. http://aaa.screening.nhs.uk/whereyoulive

This test is an ultrasound test which looks for a balloon like swelling in the abdomen.  The majority of people have no symptoms.  If detected, the AAA can be managed and monitored through the NHS and your GP.

·  Bowel Cancer

All men and women aged 60-69.  You will have been sent a home test kit.  Those 70 or over can self-refer. 

· Cervical Cancer

Women in the following age groups; 25 - 49 (3 yearly), 50 - 64 (5 yearly) and 65+ (only those who have not been screened since age 50 or have had recent abnormal tests).  You will be sent a letter inviting you for a smear test.  The tests are performed by a nurse in the treatment room at the surgery.

· Chlamydia

Sexually active men and women under 25 should be tested annually.  At any age you may be offered it opportunistically or you can ask for a test yourself.  It is a simple test you can do yourself.

· Breast Cancer

Women aged 50 - 69, every 3 years, although this is changing to 47 – 73 years old.  You will be sent a letter inviting you to book a Mammogram.  If you are 70 or over, you can request a test every 3 years.  Mammograms are available at Townlands hospital.

· Prostate Cancer

There is no screening programme but there is an “informed choice” programme to assist men in deciding whether to go ahead with a test.

WHAT IS AVAILABLE PRIVATELY?

A number of private companies and hospitals offer screening for a range of conditions and can provide information on specific risks of developing diseases.  The following screening services may be offered periodically at the Bell Surgery on a fee paying basis:

· Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer

Suitable for woman of any age.  This involves an ultrasound and blood test which, in combination, provide the best early detection of pelvic cancers.  Symptoms can be vague or regarded as part of normal menopausal or ageing process.  Early detection is key to successful treatment.

· Resting ECG Heart Trace

Suitable for men and women of any age.  This test picks up disturbances of heart rate and rhythm and some previously undiagnosed heart conditions.  This test may also show evidence of the effects of high blood pressure or poor blood supply to the heart muscle.  Screening for these conditions can help reduce the risk of stroke and Sudden Cardiac Death by 50-70%.

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