Cancer Screening

The Vision

The NHS Long Term Plan details ambitious aims for the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, with
Cancer Alliances playing a key role in the delivery.

The plan highlights that by 2028:

  • an extra 55,000 people each year will survive for five years or more following their cancer
    diagnoses; and
  • three in four cancers (75 per cent) will be diagnosed at an early stage

Why is it important?

In Cheshire and Merseyside, 18,000 people are diagnosed with cancer each year, but due to new forms of treatment, better screening and healthier lifestyles, this number is reducing rapidly. Innovations in healthcare and treatment also mean that those who have cancer have a much better chance of surviving if diagnosed early.

  • The national bowel screening coverage target is 60% – coverage in Cheshire and Merseyside varies from 52.8% to 64.3%
  • The national breast screening coverage target is 70% – 9 out of 12 CCGs are above the 70% threshold, with coverage varying from 65% to 79.2%
  • The national cervical screening coverage target is 80% – all CCGs in Cheshire and Merseyside fall below the threshold with coverage varying from 66.4-75.4%

What are we doing?

To support the aims of the NHS Long Term Plan, a three-year programme focused on increasing the uptake of breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening appointments in Cheshire and Merseyside was delivered.

The Collaborative led the programme funded by the Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance from September 2019 to September 2022.

The funding enabled the recruitment of eight cancer screening coordinators and the development of ‘Early Detect. Early Protect.’ a digital cancer screening toolkit to support frontline community staff having conversations with the public and patients about cancer screening and why it is important to attend when invited.

The appointed breast and bowel screening coordinators were placed in Cancer Screening Units in NHS Trusts across Cheshire and Merseyside and were all dedicated to improving the uptake and reducing the variation of screening across breast and bowel screening as well as addressing health inequalities by having a focus on those groups vulnerable to screening inequalities across the subregion.

The coordinators worked closely with GP Practices, local screening programmes and local communities, supporting those first-time attendee’s as well as non-responders to screening.

An evaluation of the programme was carried out and two interventions showed a demonstrable change in uptake due to the activities of the screening coordinator.

These included breast screening text message reminders sent at two weeks and a telephone call or letter after a further week. This resulted in an estimated 5.9% increase in participation by women invited to book an appointment for breast screening who hadn’t responded.

The second intervention was a bowel screening offer follow-up to people contacted by the GP practice who had not taken up the offer of bowel cancer screening when offered in the previous year. This resulted in an estimated 4.4% increase in participation.

The full evaluation for the cancer screening programme can be downloaded here

For all enquiries, please contact


Early Detect Early Protect
A new website has been launched to support healthcare and community professionals in starting conversations about screening for breast, bowel and cervical cancers with people living in Cheshire and Merseyside.

The new website contains a range of information and resources for healthcare and community professionals to help start the discussion on and offline with members of the public, and will be supported by a social media campaign.

Action on Cancer Toolkit
Cheshire & Merseyside Cancer Alliance has developed a new resource for community groups and organisations which want to spread the message about health and cancer.

The Action on Cancer Toolkit combines practical resources with tried and tested methods to enhance community engagement and improve cancer outcomes for local people. You can download the toolkit here.

Cancer Needs Assessment: 2020/21 – Cheshire and Merseyside Public Health Analysts Network