Cancer prevention and screening are valuable tools in identifying risk factors for developing cancer. Talk to your doctor about which screenings and prevention steps are right for you.
Screening and early detection is the single most effective way to combat breast cancer. When detected early, before it spreads, women have a 98 percent five-year survival rate. You should discuss your screening plan with your physician. Consult our breast cancer sheet for the latest guidelines and more information.
Women should be regularly screened for cervical cancer through an annual Pap test. Even if you have received a HPV vaccine, you should be screened for cervical cancer. Starting at age 21, you should have a Pap test every three years. In your 30s, through age 65, you should have a Pap test and a DNA HPV test every five years or only a Pap test every three years. After age 65, discuss the need for cervical cancer screenings with your physician.
Colon cancer is the second-leading cancer killer of men and women combined, and is among the most difficult to detect because it lacks symptoms in early stages. Starting at age 45, you should discuss the most appropriate screening test with your physician. If you have a higher risk, based on your family history, your doctor may recommend starting screening earlier. Annual fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) or fecal immuno chemical tests (FIT). Every three years – stool DNA testEvery five years – a flexible sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy or a double-contrast barium enema. Every 10 years – a colonoscopy or every five years, a virtual colonoscopy.
If you’re 55-80 years old, have a history of heavy smoking, currently smoke, or have quit within the last 15 years, you may want to consider having an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer.
One in seven men will develop prostate cancer in his lifetime. Beginning at age 50, you should discuss prostate cancer screenings with your physician. If you’re at high risk (African Americans and men with a family history of prostate cancer before age 65), ask your doctor if screenings are appropriate beginning at age 45. If you have immediate family members with prostate cancer, you should discuss screenings with a physician beginning at age 40. The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test measures levels of a protein produced by the prostate. Higher PSA levels indicate a higher likelihood you have cancer but other reasons may elevate PSA levels. The DRE (digital rectal exam) also tests for prostate cancer.
Check your skin once a month for any changes in moles or other marks, which may indicate a developing skin cancer. If you notice any changes to your skin, tell your doctor right away.
Men, you should self-check your testicles for any pain, discomfort, or abnormal lumps monthly. Testicular cancer, commonly diagnosed in men ages 20 to 39, has been increasing for several decades. If treated early, testicular cancer patients have a 99 percent survival rate after five years.