The NHS has a whole range of screening programs aimed at detecting health problems and diseases early when they are easiest to treat.
With calls to create a specific diabetes screening program, MailOnline looks at the ones currently available:
NHS health screening technically starts before we are even born.
Prenatal screening examines the health of a baby in the womb.
It features a combination of ultrasound and blood tests.
The blood tests can help determine whether a baby is at risk for hereditary conditions such as sickle cell anemia and whether the mother has any diseases such as HIV, hepatitis B or syphilis that doctors should be aware of.
An ultrasound can also help determine the general health of the fetus and whether they have a condition such as Down syndrome.
Shortly after a baby is born, they undergo several general health checks.
This includes a physical examination of the baby, a hearing test, and a blood test to look for any health problems or disabilities.
The physical examination generally takes place 72 hours after birth.
It examines the eyes, heart, hips and in boys the testicles for any developmental problems that need to be treated or monitored.
The blood test, which is taken from the baby’s heel, looks for nine rare but serious health conditions.
These include cystic fibroses, hormonal deficiencies and a variety of inherited metabolic diseases.
A hearing test is performed in the first few weeks to see if parents need extra support as their baby grows.
Health check on arrival at school
When children between the ages of four and five start school for the first time, parents are offered a general health check.
This includes looking at the height and weight of the child to check whether it is under or overweight.
Other checks include hearing and vision tests to ensure children receive any necessary treatment such as hearing aids or glasses before they begin learning.
Diabetes eye health check
This is a specific annual eye test that people with diabetes from the age of 12 are invited to check that their disease does not damage their vision.
It involves taking pictures of the back of the eye to see if the high blood pressure caused by diabetes is leading to vision loss.
This is called diabetic retinopathy and can cause blindness if left untreated.
Cervical cancer screening
Women between the ages of 25 and 64 are invited for a cervical cancer screening.
Commonly referred to as the Pap smear, it involves taking a smear of cells from the cervix through a woman’s vagina and takes about 15 minutes.
This smear is sent for analysis for human papillomavirus (HPV), a group of viruses that can cause changes in cells that lead to cancer.
If the sample tests positive, further testing and monitoring may be necessary to ensure that cancer is occurring, which is detected early.
The regularity of cervical examinations depends on a woman’s age.
From 25 to 49, an invitation is sent out every three years.
From 50 to 64 years old, the check is done every five years.
Cervical screening usually ends at age 65, but is sometimes continued if HPV is detected in one of the last Pap smears.
The NHS 40+ health check
This is a comprehensive check up available to all adults in England aged 40 to 74.
The aim is to detect a range of age-related health problems such as stroke, kidney disease, heart disease, type 2 diabetes or dementia as early as possible.
The checkup includes a doctor’s quiz about your general health and family history, a physical exam, as well as blood pressure and blood tests.
The whole process is designed to take about 20 to 30 minutes.
It is primarily for people who don’t have a pre-existing health condition, and those who do generally have more regular tests.
People are generally invited when they reach 40 and are invited again every five years after that for a check-up.
Breast cancer screening
Women from the age of 50 are invited for a breast cancer screening to detect possible signs of breast cancer.
During this check, a mammogram is made, a special x-ray of the breast.
A total of four X-rays are taken, two for each developing breast which takes about half an hour.
The results will be sent by mail and further tests will be required if any possible signs of cancer are noticed.
Women are re-invited for screening every three years until age 71.
Colon cancer screening
From the age of 60, both men and women receive a bowel cancer screening package sent home.
This involves collecting a small piece of feces which is then sent to a lab to detect any traces of blood.
Blood in stool can be a sign of cancer or growths called polyps that can turn into cancer over time.
If the test detects anything that may be related to the person, the person will be invited for further testing to ensure cancer is caught early.
Like other cancers mentioned earlier, in general, the earlier the disease is caught, the more effective the potential treatment.
After participating in the bowel cancer screening programme, people receive a new kit every two years.
The program will be expanded to British citizens aged 50 and over.
This expansion is gradual starting with people in their late 50’s and will be praised in April 2021.
Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) Screening Program
The AAA program is designed to detect a bulge or swelling in the aorta, the main blood vessel that runs from the heart to the abdomen.
If not detected in time, it can burst and cause life-threatening blood loss.
Screening for AAA is offered to men over the age of 65, as they are the most likely group to suffer from the condition.
High blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and a current or former smoker are risk factors for an AAA.
Screening for an AAA includes an ultrasound to check the physical condition of the heart.
People generally get to hear their results right away.
Treatment depends on the size of the bulge.
Smaller ones are monitored regularly while a patient is recommended to make lifestyle changes such as their diet, exercise, and cut down on smoking and drinking.
Larger, more life-threatening AAAs may require surgery.