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Cancer Screening


Cancer is a common disease: the life-time risk of being diagnosed with cancer is 1:2 if you were born after 1960.1 Cancer survival rates are, however, much improved,1 thanks to better treatments, research which has led to new understanding of the disease, enhanced diagnostic equipment, screening and early detection. Screening programmes detect changes in cells at a pre-cancerous stage, enabling preventative treatment and regular, more frequent monitoring of high risk patients to commence.

Understanding cancer and how it develops will increase your confidence in answering questions from patients about cancer, and will help you understand the principles of the NHS screening programme.

The focus of this resource is the NHS cancer screening programme and uses four assessment questions to test and develop your knowledge of cancer screening and prevention. The resource, offered at intermediate level, and its associated activities will take approximately one hour to complete.

Aims and Objectives

On completion of this resource you will have a better understanding of:

  • What cancer is and the common causes of cancer
  • The principles of cancer screening and the importance of early detection
  • Proposed changes to the NHS cancer screening programme
  • How factors that can increase the risk of a person developing cancer may be identified
  • How to advise and support people to make informed decisions relating to cancer screening

Practice Nurse featured articles

Cancer in the community, Part 1: Cancer screening, Catherine Wilson, Head of The Royal Marsden School, London. Practice Nurse 2016;46(09): 33-35

National cancer screening programmes: risks, benefits and concerns Hannah Waterhouse, Practice Nurse July 2013; 43(07):44-48

Focus on women’s health: Best practice in cervical screening Jenny Greenfield, Practice Nurse May 2015;45(05):16-20

Evidence and controversies. Katherine Hunt, Practice Nurse November 2013;43(11)44-47

Prostate cancer and the practice nurse. Jim Pollard, Practice Nurse November 2014;44(11):41-45