Cancer Screening and Early Detection

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If cancer is detected early, when it’s small and hasn’t had the chance to spread, it is more likely to be treated successfully. At Overlake, we see it every day: Early detection saves lives. The following reflects screening guidelines for those who are at average risk for cancers. For those who have a high risk for certain cancers, including those with a family history or genetic predisposition, additional screenings may be recommended. Always discuss with your healthcare provider which screenings are right for you.

Woman embraces friend with cancer.

Breast cancer*

  • Women between the ages of 25 and 39 should be offered a clinical breast examination every one to three years.
  • Women 40 and older should consider having an annual mammogram in addition to an annual clinical breast examination.
  • If you have not started screening in your 40s, you should start having mammography no later than age 50. Screening should continue until at least age 75.

Cervical cancer**

  • Under 21—No screening for cervical cancer. Complete human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series if not already received.
  • Age 21 to 29—HPV testing and Pap test every three years.
  • Age 30 to 65—Pap test recommended every three years if tests are normal. Patients should be screened even if they report sexual abstinence.
  • Over 65 years—The decision to discontinue screening in average risk patients depends on the patient's prior results, life expectancy and preferences in a shared decision-making discussion.

Colorectal cancer**

  • Adults age 45 to 75 and of average risk for colorectal cancer should have a colonoscopy screening every 10 years.

Kidney cancer

  • There are no standard screening guidelines or routine tests for kidney cancer. Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors. If you have a family history of kidney cancer or other disorders linked with the disease, you may want to ask about genetic testing and kidney cancer screening.

    Lung cancer**
    Annual screenings with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scans for people who are:

    • Are age 50 to 80; and
    • Are current smokers or have quit in the last 15 years; and
    • Have a 20 pack-year history of smoking (a pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year).

    Prostate cancer***

    • Men at average risk should be screened for prostate cancer beginning at age 50, as needed.
    • Begin at 45 if you have a higher than average risk.
    • Begin at 40 if you have more than one close relative with prostate cancer before age 65.

    Skin cancer

    • Skin exams are important for everyone. Talk with your healthcare provider about how often you need a skin exam. You may need one more often if you have an increased risk of skin cancer. You have an increased risk if you have had skin cancer before, have a family history of skin cancer, have fair skin, have had significant sun exposure, or have a weakened immune system.

    * American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
    ** U.S. Preventive Services Task Force
    *** National Comprehensive Cancer Network

    Is genetic counseling right for you?

    Somewhere between 5% and 10% of cancers are hereditary, which means they can be passed from generation to generation through genetic mutations. At Overlake Cancer Center, our team includes a board-certified genetic counselor who has special expertise in cancer genetics. The goal of genetic counseling is to figure out if a cancer in your family is hereditary, and to reduce the risk of cancer affecting you or your relatives.

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