THERE is widespread public confusion about cancer screening on the NHS, a has charity said.
Fewer than one in five people can name the three cancers screened for by the NHS screening programme, says a poll for Cancer Research UK.
A survey of more than 4,150 people revealed that only 16% could correctly identify breast, cervical and bowel cancer as the three cancers screened for.
The charity said it was continuing its call for the Government and the NHS to further improve services.
Most (94%) of women in the poll realised that breast cancer screening was available on the NHS, but under 60% knew cervical screening was also offered.
Knowledge of bowel cancer screening was lowest, with only 25% of all those questioned aware of the programme.
Screening plays a vital role in detecting cancer early or picking up changes before the cancer develops.
Breast cancer screening in England is estimated to prevent around 1,400 deaths every year, while cervical saves around 4,500 lives.
Researchers have also calculated that there will be 20,000 fewer deaths from bowel cancer over the next 20 years.
Today’s survey comes in light of figures which show fewer women have attended cervical screening in recent years.
Just above 40% attended in England in 1989, rising to 82% in 1995, but falling to 79% in 2006/07.
Meanwhile, almost 75% of women aged 50 or older who were invited for breast screening accepted their invitation in the year 2005/06.
Around 57% of people who are sent screening kits will take part in bowel cancer screening, figures also suggest.
Prof Stephen Duffy, Cancer Research UK’s professor of screening, said: “The uncertainty around what is screened for could be from a range of reasons.
“Lack of knowledge of the bowel cancer screening programme may be because the programme only recently began and is not yet available across the UK.’’