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Prevention & Screenings

Making healthy choices and being screened for cancer are keys to good health and could help reduce your risk of developing cancer and other illnesses.


Your overall health, including risk of cancer and other diseases, is affected by what you eat, how much you exercise, and other habits.

Stop Smoking

Studies show that just 20 minutes after a smoker kicks the habit, both heart rate and blood pressure drop. And within 5 years, the risk of getting cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Click here (link to smoking cessation page under Health & Wellness) for valuable tools that will help you successfully fight the urge to smoke.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight decreases your risk for developing several types of cancer. The best way to manage your weight is to make healthy food choices and incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Health benefits increase when you lose even a small amount of weight. If you need help, our Health & Wellness Center (link to Health & Wellness service page) can work with you to create a plan that works best for you.

Stay Physically Active

Staying physically active helps keep the body healthy. Adults should be active for at least 150 minutes each week, and children should be active for at least one hour per day.

Make Healthy Food Choices

Eating at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily gives your body antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and minerals, and can also help with weight control. When making healthy food choices, whole grain is better than processed, or refined, grains, and lean meats are healthier than processed and red meat.

Limit Alcohol Consumption

Limiting alcohol consumption can help your overall health and in reducing your risk for cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends a maximum of 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women.


Early detection, or screening, is especially important if you have a family history of cancer and if you are prone to certain types of cancers. Finding cancer as early as possible helps doctors treat the disease before it can spread, and while it is still small.

Screenings include:

  • Your doctor giving you a physical exam
  • Your doctor asking about and becoming familiar with your family medical history
  • Having lab work done to see if there are issues in your body
  • Having imaging procedures, such as X-rays, taken
  • Undergoing genetic testing to find any changes in your genes that may be linked to cancer

Certain screenings have been proven to reduce deaths from cancer and are recommended for certain demographics.

Important Screenings & Exams

Your doctor can use screenings to detect certain cancers, even when you don’t have symptoms. Finding cancer in early stages helps your healthcare team treat the disease before it spreads and grows.

Certain screenings are recommended depending on age, gender and family history. Please talk to your doctor if you have a family history of cancer.

If you do not have a family history of cancer, standard recommendations are:

Breast Cancer

  • At any age, women should be familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts. If you see any changes, talk to your doctor immediately.
  • Talk to you doctor about whether your risk for breast cancer is higher than average, and if it is, discuss your plan for when you should start getting mammograms and other possible tests.
  • At age 40, women should start having annual mammograms.
  • At age 55, women are recommended to get mammograms every 2 years, or annually if you choose.

Cervical Cancer

  • If you have a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer, you should continue cervical cancer testing for 20 years after the initial diagnosis.
  • Women age 21-29 should have a Pap smear and HPV test every 3 years.
  • At age 30, women should get a Pap smear and HPV test every 5 years or continue to get a Pap smear every 3 years.
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy unrelated to cervical cancer do not need to be tested.

Colon Cancer

  • Beginning at age 45, all men and women should be screened for colon cancer. Talk to your doctor about which type of test you should have, and how often you should have it.

Lung Cancer

  • Men and women who are 50 or older should discuss smoking history and early lung cancer screenings with your doctor. If you currently smoke or quit smoking in the past 20 years and do not have signs of lung cancer, a lung cancer screening could help you. All insurances do not cover this screening, so you should also find out how much the test will cost.
  • Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
  • But, a report earlier this year by the American Cancer Society attributed the nation’s largest one-year drop in cancer mortality – a 2.2% decline from 2016 to 2017 – to a reduction in deaths from lung cancer.
  • For lung cancer, the decline is due in part to increased screening for those at high risk
  • The screening for lung cancer is a low-dose CT scan, which can recognize tiny nodules that would otherwise go undetected -- there long before the patient has any symptoms. It also creates less exposure to radiation than a traditional CT scan
  • For patients who meet certain criteria, like age and smoking habits, their primary care physician may recommend an annual low-dose CT scan. The goal is to be proactive, flagging patients who are most at risk to get screened
  • Eligible patients include those between 50-77 who have a significant smoking history
  • A significant smoking history means smoking the equivalent of one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 or more years
  • This can be either currently or in the recent past, even if they have quit smoking within past 15 years
  • Patients with symptoms such as coughing up of blood or weight loss should see their physician first, before enrolling in a lung cancer screening program

Prostate Cancer

  • If you had more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65, talk to your doctor at age 40 about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of getting screened.
  • If you are a man age 45 or older and are at higher than average risk of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about screening. Men at higher than average risk are defined as those with a father, brother or son who had prostate cancer before age 65 and African American men.
  • All men should talk to their doctor at age 50 about potential risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening.

Skin Cancer

  • Certain physical features can be a risk factor such as a lighter natural skin color or skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun; blue or green eyes; blonde or red hair; or having certain types and a large number of moles. Other risk factors can include family or personal history of skin cancer, exposure to the sun through work and play, a history of sunburns, especially early in life, or a history of indoor tanning.
  • Adult men and women should examine skin regularly and see a doctor to evaluate new growths or changes in existing growths.
  • To examine your skin for changes, check for the five most common features in a potentially abnormal spot: asymmetry, border, color, diameter and evolution (often called the ABCDEs of melanoma.)
  • A- If a spot is asymmetrical, then one half of the spot does not match the other.
  • B - Check the border to see if the edges are irregular, ragged, notched or blurred.
  • C - If color is not the same all over and may include different shades of brown or black, or sometimes with patches of pink, red, white, or blue, then it may be an abnormal spot.
  • D - Check the diameter to see if the spot is larger than 6 millimeters across (about ¼ inch – the size of a pencil eraser), although melanomas can sometimes be smaller than this.
  • E- A spot is evolving if it changing in size, shape, or color. If you notice these changes on your skin, please talk to your doctor.

Click here to learn more about recommended screenings or visit the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for if and when you should be screened.

Genetic Testing

Your family history is an important factor in your risk for cancer. If you or someone in your immediate family has had cancer, you may consider genetic screening.

Genetic screening is a personal choice that can help inform you as you make choices about your and your family’s health.

During genetic screening, a geneticist investigates your probability of developing cancer by closely examining your personal and family history and reviewing a specialized blood test.

If you have one or more of these personal or family history characteristics, you should talk to your doctor about genetic screening:

  • Breast cancer before age 50
  • Bilateral breast cancer or two primary breast cancers
  • Two or more breast and/or ovarian cancers in the family
  • Male breast cancer
  • Jewish ancestry and family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  • Colorectal cancer before age 50
  • Endometrial cancer before age 50
  • A history of 20 or more non-cancerous colon polyps
  • Two or more related cancers
    • Breast/Ovarian
    • Pancreatic/Melanoma
    • Colon/endometrial (if these cancers occur in addition to ovarian, other GI, liver, or renal cancers, Lynch Syndrome should be considered)
  • A known cancer gene mutation in the family

Scientists have only discovered a handful of cancer genes and it is possible that a genetic change exists in your family that cannot be detected by current testing methods. It is also possible that even with a family history of cancer, you may not have inherited that specific gene change. If no genetic change is found, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will live cancer-free. Likewise, if you are found to have a genetic change, it is possible that you may not develop cancer.

If you do learn you are genetically at risk for cancer, your geneticist will help you understand and address your particular level of risk for cancer, and will work with you to determine how you might use your test results to make future decisions for you and your family, such as preventative lifestyle changes, early detection methods or pretreatment options.

Genetic testing may be covered by some insurances; however, Louisiana law restricts the use of genetic information by insurers and employers and prohibits discrimination based on the results.

To make an appointment with our certified geneticist, call (225) 237-1600.

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