Screening for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

There is no UK screening programme for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia because:

  • this type of cancer is rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

What is screening?

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease. This is before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

What screening programmes are there in the UK?

There are 3 national screening programmes in the UK:

  • Bowel cancer screening is offered to people aged 60-74 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland people aged 50-74 are offered bowel cancer screening.
  • Breast cancer screening is offered to women, some transgender men and some non-binary people aged 50-70 in the UK.
  • Cervical screening is offered to women, some transgender men and some non-binary people aged 25-64 in the UK.

You will only be invited for screening if you are registered with a GP. If you aren’t registered, you can find a local GP on the NHS website.

Symptoms

If you have symptoms and are worried about cancer, see your GP. They can arrange for you to have blood tests or other tests depending on your symptoms, such as an ultrasound scan. They may refer you to see a specialist.

For information about ALL, you can call the Cancer Research UK nurses on freephone 0808 800 4040. The lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

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