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 40-44, women should be able to choose to screening for breast cancer by having a mammogram.
  • At age 45, 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 50, 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 55 or older should discuss smoking history and early lung cancer screenings with your doctor. If you currently smoke or quit smoking in the past 15 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.

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.

Learn more about different cancers and the American Cancer Society’s guidelines for if and when you should be screened.

Click here to get more information about each type of cancer.