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It is important to visit your GP for regular health checks and conduct some yourself where possible, such as breast cancer checks. These checks can pick up early signs of illness or disease such as cancers and the sooner that the ailments are identified the sooner treatment can begin. Generally, an annual health check is enough but for those at a higher risk of a specific disease, you are likely to need more frequent checks. Some risk factors include family history, weight, age, and smoking. 

Cervical screenings

Cervical screenings, or smear tests, are a 5-minute procedure that saves 5000 women from dying in the UK every year. These screenings assess the cervix for precursors to cancer – the human papillomavirus which can mutate cells and cause cancerous growths. While smear tests are a quick and relatively painless preventative procedure, 1 in 3 women under 35 miss their cervical screening likely due to fear and inconvenience. 

If you are between 24 and 64, you should be getting regular cervical screenings to ensure that if you do develop cancerous cells, they are caught in time for treatment. If you find that your symptoms were missed during a cervical screening or that the diagnosis was incorrect or delayed, you may be in a position to claim for gynaecology medical negligence

The consequences of gynaecology medical negligence can cause psychological and physical damage including infertility, increased pain during periods, and delayed diagnosis of deadly cancers.

Breast cancer checks 

Regardless of your age or gender, being aware of your body and being aware of breast cancer symptoms is very important. You will want to check monthly for any strange bumps in your breast tissue and any visual symptoms like puckered skin, rashes, and redness. Breast tissue is also found up to your collarbone and underneath your armpits, so you should ensure that the whole area is checked each time. If you do find anything abnormal, contact your doctor as the quicker you begin treatment the more likely it is to succeed. 

Those aged 50 to 71 will be invited to have a breast cancer screening every 3 years if they are registered with a GP. At these screenings, a consultant will use a mammogram to identify any cancers that may not be able to be felt or seen externally.

Bowel screenings

Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in women, however, over half of the cases in the UK are diagnosed at a late stage where treatment is not successful.

Bowel cancer screening kits are sent to those registered with a GP and aged between 50 and 74 in England and can reduce the risk of death if detected early on. The screenings can detect bowel cancer and polyps that could become cancerous through the small feces sample that you provide and post via the return envelope. 

Sexual health screenings

All sexually active people under 25 are recommended to receive a chlamydia screening every year, while women over 25 with new, or multiple, sexual partners should get tested for gonorrhea. 

While chlamydia usually has no symptoms, gonorrhea does and may include thick yellow or green discharge, bleeding between periods, and pain while urinating. Unprotected sex (vaginal, anal, or oral) and changing partners often can put you at higher risk of contracting these STIs which can cause serious complications if left untreated. 

Moles 

If you have moles, you should be checking them regularly as any changes could be due to melanoma – a type of skin cancer. The better you know your skin the more likely you are to spot any changes promptly so be sure to check your moles monthly. If you are worried about any moles then contact your GP and you will be able to have them checked. 

There are a range of risk factors that may increase the likelihood of getting skin cancer including if you have fair hair and skin, expose yourself to the sun or use sunbeds, or if you have a family member with skin cancer.

The ABCDE rule for moles is a good way to gauge whether they may need checking by a professional or not:

  • Asymmetry – are both halves of the mole the same?
  • Border – is the edge blurred or uneven?
  • Colour – is the mole different shades?
  • Diameter – is it bigger than 6mm across?
  • Evolution – has it changed?