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Cancer Screening Guidelines

Many lives can be saved by early detection and diagnosis. The American Cancer Society sets forth the following guidelines for cancer-related checkups. A general cancer related checkup is recommended every three years for people ages 20 to 39, and annually for people 40 and older. The checkup should include:

Examinations for cancers of the thyroid, testicles, ovaries, lymph nodes, oral cavity and skin, as well as health counseling about tobacco, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, risk factors, sexual practices and environmental and occupational exposures.

Breast Cancer

Women ages 20-39

  • Perform a breast self-exam each month. Have a clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional every three years.
  • Special considerations for starting mammograms depend on other factors like family history. If you have any questions on when you should start screening mammograms, please speak with your doctor.

Women age 40 and over

  • Have a mammogram every year. Have a clinical breast exam by a healthcare professional every year close to, and preferably before, the mammogram. Perform a breast self-exam each month.

Colorectal Cancer

Age 50 and older, one of the following:

  • Fecal occult blood test every year and flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years. A digital rectal exam should be done at the same time as these exams. Colonoscopy every 10 years. Double-contrast barium enema every five to 10 years.

Cervical Cancer

  • After the age of 18, get a Pap test annually. If results are normal three years in a row, your healthcare professional will tell you how often to have them.

Skin Cancer

  • Examine your skin regularly and have a skin exam during your regular health checkups.

Prostate Cancer

  • At age 50, talk with your healthcare professional about beginning prostate-specific (PSA) blood testing and digital rectal exams (DRE) of the prostate gland. Factors to consider include your overall health and life expectancy. Some men at higher risk should begin testing at age 45. High risk categories include African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at a young age.

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

  • For women with or at high risk for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, annual screening should be offered for endometrial cancer with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35. At the time of menopause, women are strongly encouraged to report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their physicians.