Screening

Find out about the types of tests offered in Scotland and the conditions they look for.

Screening tests identify certain diseases and conditions before symptoms appear so that treatment can be started early.

In Scotland, screening is offered for:

Pregnancy and newborn screening are also offered to pregnant people and newborn babies.

Young children are offered vision screening as they start school.

Benefits and risks of screening

Screening can find the signs of serious conditions before any symptoms develop.

If a condition is found early:

  • it’s less likely to become severe
  • you’re less likely to need major treatment

Regular screening can reduce the number of deaths from certain conditions.

While screening can improve quality of life and prevent deaths through early diagnosis, no test is 100% accurate. There are risks involved in some types of screening.

It’s important to have realistic expectations of what screening can offer. Although screening can reduce the chance you'll develop a condition or complications, it can’t always protect you from a particular illness.

Your personal information

The NHS keeps a record of your personal screening information, including test results. All NHS staff must keep your personal health information confidential.

You have the right to see and get a copy of the information that the screening centre holds about you.

Sharing your information

Screening test information (including test samples) may be used for research, education and training. Any information used in this way will have personal details removed.

Service evaluation

The NHS regularly reviews screening services to make sure you’re offered the best service possible.

Screening information is used to:

  • identify areas for improvement
  • monitor the effectiveness of the service
  • make sure these services meet the agreed standard

Further information

You can find out more about how the NHS uses your information, and your rights concerning this, on the following pages:

Your screening appointments

You'll be invited to be screened based on your age and/or sex. This is because you've a higher chance of developing certain diseases and conditions depending on your age and (sometimes) sex.

You'll be invited to screening appointments by a letter sent to your house.

Make sure your GP practice always has your current address so you're invited to the right screening programme at the right time.

Screening for the transgender community

Whether you're a trans man, trans woman, identify as non-binary or describe your gender in another way, it's important you're aware of which screening services you're eligible for.

Find out which screening services you're eligible for as a non-binary or transgender person

Abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) screening

AAA screening is offered to those who:

  • are male (or assigned male at birth)
  • are 65 years or older
  • have not been screened for an AAA before

You should receive a letter with your screening invitation. If you haven't received your letter, you can arrange an appointment by phoning your local AAA screening centre.

Bowel screening

Bowel screening is offered everyone aged 50 to 74. 

The screening test should be repeated every 2 years.

The test can be done at home. The Scottish Bowel Screening Centre will send you a free test kit every two years.

If you’re 75 or over, you can still take a bowel screening test every 2 years. However, you’ll need to request a new test kit each time.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP if you experience:

  • bleeding from your bottom
  • blood in your poo
  • a persistent and unexplained change in bowel habits
  • unexplained weight loss
  • extreme tiredness for no obvious reason
  • a pain or lump in your abdomen (tummy)

These are usually caused by something other than cancer but it’s important to have them checked.

Signs and symptoms of bowel cancer

Breast screening

Routine breast screening is offered to those who:

  • are female 
  • are aged 50-70
  • have not had a screening test in the last 3 years

Breast screening is also offered to:

  • non-binary people who were assigned female at birth (AFAB), and haven't had breast removal surgery
  • trans women who are taking hormones
  • trans men who haven't had breast removal surgery

You should receive a letter with your screening invitation. If you haven't received your letter, you can arrange an appointment by phoning your local breast screening centre.

If you're over the age of 70 you can continue to have breast screening, but you'll need to arrange your own appointment every 3 years.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP if you experience:

  • a lump or area of thickened tissue in either breast
  • a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
  • discharge from either of your nipples (which may be streaked with blood)

Most breast lumps (90%) aren't cancerous, but it's always best to have them checked by a medical professional.

Signs and symptoms of breast cancer

Cervical screening

Cervical screening is routinely offered to those who:

  • have a cervix (the entrance to the womb)
  • are between 25 and 64 years old
  • haven't had a screening test in the last 5 years

If you're on non-routine screening (where screening results have shown changes that need further investigation or follow up) you'll be invited for cervical screening up to 70 years of age.

You should receive a letter with your screening invitation. If you haven't received your letter, you can arrange an appointment by contacting your local GP practice.

Non-urgent advice: Speak to your GP if you experience:

  • unusual discharge
  • bleeding after sex, between periods or after the menopause

These are usually caused by something other than cancer but it’s important to have them checked.

Signs and symptoms of cervical cancer

Diabetic eye screening (DES)

Diabetic eye screening (DES) is offered to those who:

  • have diabetes
  • are over 12 years old

You should receive a letter with your screening invitation. If you haven't received your letter, you can arrange an appointment by contacting your local diabetic eye screening service.

Pregnancy, newborn and children's screening

All expectant parents will be offered screening during pregnancy.

All new parents will be offered screening for their child after birth.

All children will be offered eye screening as they are starting school.

Other languages and formats

Information in other languages and formats. 

For alternative formats, please contact phs.otherformats@phs.scot.

Albanian
Arabic
Bengali

Newborn screening

British Sign Language (BSL)
Bulgarian

Breast screening

Newborn screening

English
English (Audio)
English (Easy Read)
English (Large Print)
Farsi

Breast screening

Newborn screening

Pashto
Polish
Punjabi

Bowel screening

Breast screening

Cervical screening

Newborn screening

Roma
Romanian

Breast screening

Newborn screening

Russian
Simplified Chinese (Mandarin)
Slovak

Breast screening

Newborn screening

Spanish

Abdominal aortic aneurysm screening

Newborn screening

Traditional Chinese (Cantonese)
Turkish

Newborn screening

Ukrainian
Urdu
Vietnamese

Newborn screening