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Published: 02 October 2023

Latest news update from the National Screening Service – 2 October 2023

Welcome to our latest news summary featuring updates across the National Screening Service. To keep up to date with all of our news, read our blogs and follow us on X @NSShse.

CervicalCheck asks women in their 60s to book their free HPV cervical screening test

CervicalCheck is offering a further free HPV cervical screening test to women who were 60 to 65 years of age in 2020, as they missed out on the new screening test due to the cut-off for cervical screening being aged 60 at that time. From today, 2 October 2023, we are writing to around 80,000 women to invite them to book a free HPV cervical screening test. Women in their 60s can also check the CervicalCheck register to see if they are eligible for CervicalCheck HPV screening under this new initiative.

Up to March 2020, cervical screening was offered to women up to the age of 60. When HPV testing was introduced, the age eligibility was extended to 65. Women who had their last cervical screening by 2020, but who now came under the new age range, contacted us to ask to be included in HPV screening. As a result of this feedback we completed a consultation and an evidence review and, throughout October and November, women who were 60 to 65 years old in 2020 will now be receiving a special invite to book an appointment for HPV cervical screening. We have engaged with our GP and colposcopy colleagues to ask that they support women in this age range who come for screening and follow-up tests. We are also running a national advertising campaign to raise awareness of HPV cervical screening, which includes specific messages for women coming for screening post-menopause.

BreastCheck marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, when we raise awareness of BreastCheck, the free national breast screening programme for women aged 50 to 69. Throughout the month our campaign will give women the information they need to enable them to choose breast screening. We will be highlighting the importance of women taking up their first invitation to screening, as we know that uptake is lower among women being invited for their first screening test. We will also encourage women to check that they are on the BreastCheck register, and we will give tips on how to be breast aware. You can follow all the activity on X (formerly Twitter) and read our blogs throughout October.

BowelScreen age extension

This month (October), we will begin extending the age range of those eligible for BowelScreen with the addition of 59-year-olds, initially moving from 60 to 69 to 59 to 69. This makes the free home screening test available to more people. Age extension is outlined in the National Cancer Strategy 2017-2026 and in the Programme for Government. International research shows that the maximum benefit will be achieved when BowelScreen is available to those aged 55 to 74. We are expanding the age range gradually, in carefully managed stages, to ensure everyone has access to onward testing and treatment, if needed. We will be promoting the new age range on radio, in national press and on social media. With the addition of people aged 59 we would ask that you please update your information sources with the new age range 59 to 69. We will keep you informed of future age extensions as they progress.

Marking 10 years of Diabetic RetinaScreen

Diabetic RetinaScreen turns 10 this year and on World Sight Day on 12 October, we will be marking this milestone for the programme across our communications channels. Diabetic RetinaScreen has provided over 800,000 screens in the last decade to people who have diabetes through a network that today has over 130 community-based screening locations. Programme Manager Helen Kavanagh will also present at the World Sight Day Conference in Belfast.

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