Your Essential Guide to Cancer Screenings

Cancer screening men womenDetecting cancer early—when it’s most treatable—should be a key part of your self-care plan.
The following screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society (ACS) are for people who have an average risk for cancer. If you have an increased risk—due to your family history, for instance—ask your doctor if you should be screened at an earlier age or more often.

Men and Women
Colorectal Cancer

People with an average risk for colorectal cancer should have one of these tests beginning at age 50. Ask your doctor which test you should have.
• Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
• Colonoscopy every 10 years
• Double contrast barium enema every five years
• Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test annually
• Fecal immunochemical test annually
• Stool DNA test every three years

Breast Cancer

• Yearly mammograms for women ages 45 to 54, then every other year for women ages 55 and older
• Women with a heightened breast cancer risk should ask their doctors about the risks and benefits of an annual MRI and mammogram

Cervical Cancer
• Women should begin screenings at age 21
• Regular Pap tests should be done every three years
• At age 30, women can choose to instead have a Pap test once every five years along with a human papillomavirus (HPV) test
• Women over 65 who have had normal screenings and do not have a high risk for cervical cancer do not need Pap tests

Endometrial Cancer
After menopause, women who have bleeding or spotting should tell their doctors, who may order screenings.

Prostate Cancer

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends against PSA screening for all men. Recommendations from other organizations, including the ACS, differ slightly. However, all organizations agree that men with questions or concerns should discuss the potential benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening with their physicians and make an informed decision. 

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