When it comes to cancer, early detection is key

If you are worried about symptoms that you think could be cancer, please know that your GP is still here for you.

Cancer is easier to treat when it is caught at an earlier stage, so coming forward for a check could save your life.

Whether you, or a loved one, has a routine cancer screening appointment, or a potential cancer symptom, our message is clear, you are not a burden.

GPs across south west London are now offering phone or video appointments and have also put in place new measures for your safety if you need to come into your practice.

Contact your GP practice in the usual way to get the advice you need. If you have COVID-19 related symptoms, follow the current advice and do not visit your practice.

Cancer Research UK offers a range of resources to support cancer prevention such as smoking cessation, cancer and obesity, plus tools to assess awareness.

Talk Cancer training programmes are also available for groups delivering health and wellbeing in the community.

Bowel cancer is a common type of cancer in both men and women. About one in 20 people will get bowel cancer during their lifetime.

Screening can help detect bowel cancer at an early stage when it is easier to treat. It can also be used to help check for and remove small growths in the bowel called polyps, which can turn into cancer over time.

NHS bowel cancer screening is only offered to people aged 60 or over, as this is when you’re more likely to develop bowel cancer.

Visit to find out more about bowel cancer screening.

If you’re below 60 years of age but are worried about a family history of bowel cancer, speak to your GP for advice.

Always see a GP if you have symptoms of bowel cancer at any age – do not wait to be screened.

Breast screening is an essential activity

Please note that breast screening appointments are deemed as essential activity and therefore exempt from restrictions on movements imposed in tier 4 areas.

Breast screening is important in preventing and detecting breast cancer. It offers a significant opportunity for early detection which increases the chances of recovery and reduces the need for aggressive treatments like chemotherapy.

Breast screening units across London have put much in place to reduce the risk of Covid-19 to keep you safe. Access to screening services is also easier as you can have your appointment on days and times of your own choosing. For further information and guidance on essential activities, visit

The South West London NHS Breast Screening Programme provides free breast screening for women from the age of 50, on behalf of GP practices in Croydon, Kingston, Richmond, Sutton, Merton and Wandsworth boroughs. 

The programme currently invites more than 70,000 women for breast screening each year. To make screening available closer to home, these services are carried out at seven sites across the region:

  • Edridge Road Community Health Centre, Croydon
  • Purley War Memorial Hospital
  • Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton
  • Rose Centre, St George’s Hospital, Tooting
  • Surbiton Health Centre
  • Robin Hood Health Centre, Sutton
  • Teddington Memorial Hospital
Be breast cancer aware
Dr Emma Kipps, RM Partners Clinical Director and Consultant Breast Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, on how important it is to be breast cancer aware.
Understanding breast pain
Dr Afsana Safa, a GP in Westminster, explains the causes of breast pain and why it is not considered to be a sign of more serious disease. She describes how breast pain feels and what steps people can take to help relieve the pain.

Checking your breasts

It’s important to check your breasts regularly. If you notice a change, don’t delay seeing your GP.

Breast Cancer Now provides top tips on how to check your breasts.

Cervical screening is a way of preventing cancer. It tests for a virus called high risk human papilloma virus (HPV). High risk HPV can cause cervical cells to become abnormal. Most cases of cervical cancer are linked to high risk HPV.

The NHS cervical screening programme invites women between the ages of 25 to 64 for screening – this includes anyone with a cervix, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity.

An invitation is sent every three years if you are aged 25 to 49, then every five years until the age of 64.

To be invited, you need to be registered with a GP. 

For more information about cervical screening visit or Alternatively, visit Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, which includes films about cervical cancer in different languages.

Patient waiting times, from GP referral to cancer diagnosis and treatment by the NHS in England, are measured and published by NHS England

Together with RM Partners West London Cancer Alliance, we’re working with hospitals and GPs to offer personalised cancer care, including needs assessment, a care plan, and health and wellbeing information and support.

Visit NHS England for more information about personalised care. 

In South West London, Macmillan have partnerships with both public and voluntary organisations to support local people living with cancer.

Support is available from the moment someone is diagnosed and throughout their treatment, as well as end of life care. 

There are around 250 Macmillan professionals supporting people across South West London. Their services include:

The NHS Long-Term Plan sets two bold ambitions for improving cancer outcomes:

  • By 2028, 55,000 more people will survive cancer for five years or more each year
  • By 2028, 75% of people will be diagnosed at an early stage (stage one or two)

Across South West London, we are focusing on screening and early diagnosis, reducing variation, improving cancer waiting times and living with and beyond cancer.

We’re proud to be part of RM Partners Cancer Alliance for West London (covering south west London and north west London). Through the Alliance we are delivering ambitious transformation of cancer services, which aim for excellent outcomes and better patient experience.

Read more about the work RM Partners is doing to transform cancer services.