Detect cancer early, when it’s the most treatable.
Screening tests are used to check for certain types of cancer in your body, even when you don’t have visible symptoms.
A screening can be as simple as a blood test or X-ray, or it can require a minimally invasive procedure, such as a Pap test or colonoscopy. The key is to talk with your primary care doctor and know when to get screened.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Cancer Society recommend these types of cancer screenings, depending on your family history.
- Cervical Cancer
- All women between the ages of 21 and 30 should have a Pap test every three years.
- Beginning at age 30, women are encouraged to add the HPV test every five years.
- After age 65, you may discontinue screening unless you are at high risk for developing the disease.
- Breast Cancer
- At age 40, all women should get a screening mammogram.
- From age 45 to 55, yearly screenings should continue.
- At age 55, exams can be scheduled every two years.
- If you have dense breast tissue, your doctor may recommend a 3-D mammogram.
- If someone in your immediate family has had breast cancer, your mammograms should begin earlier.
- Colon/Rectal Cancer
- Men and women should have a screening colonoscopy at age 50.
- You may have periodic fecal blood tests.
- Usually colonoscopies are scheduled every 10 years, unless you have known risk factors.
- Generally colonoscopies stop as a screening for those over 75.
- Lung Cancer
- For men and women with a history of smoking within the past 15 years.
- Annual low-dose CT screenings can be scheduled at age 55.
- Prostate Cancer
There are two tests to check men for prostate cancer.
- For the digital rectal exam, a doctor will physically feel the prostate and determine if anything is abnormal.
- The PSA blood test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men be screened for prostate cancer beginning at age 50. African American men should begin screening at age 45, as they are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer.
Check with your doctor on the screening best for you. Your doctor will explain that certain medical conditions, such as an inflamed or enlarged prostate, can lead to false positive test results. Our specialists recommend that you have the digital rectal exam annually and will use the PSA test accordingly.
- Other Cancers
You can be screened for other cancers, too.
Other cancer tests can be used if you have a family history or are at high risk. They can screen for indications of esophageal, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers.
Know your family history.
An estimated 10 to 20 percent of all cancers have a hereditary link. Knowing your family’s medical history — including any previous cancer diagnoses — can help you be more proactive about your own health.
It’s helpful to track which relatives have had cancer. This includes your parents and children as well as grandparents, aunts, and uncles.
Three important things to watch for on the family tree:
- The type of cancer and which of your relatives were diagnosed with cancer, especially at ages under 50
- Whether the cancer cases were on your mother’s side or father’s side of the family
- Whether anyone in your family has had more than one type of cancer
In our Cancer Genetic Counseling Clinic, you can discuss your family history with our team of specially trained genetic counselors. Together you can determine if genetic testing is right for you and if earlier or more regular screenings are recommended.