Getting screened regularly for cancer can bring you peace of mind and quite possibly mean the difference between life and death. Here is a helpful cheat sheet on what kinds of cancers you should be screened for and how often.
Breast cancer. This is probably the most-known cancer and screening. Guidelines vary slightly, but it is generally recommended that people with breasts 45 and older get mammograms every one to two years. For people with increased risk factors such as family history or certain genetic markers, an additional MRI screening is an option.
Cervical cancer. People with a cervix between ages 25 and 65 should get a Pap test done every three years, as it can find abnormal cells in the cervix that might become cancerous. They should also have a primary HPV test done every five years to detect the presence of HPV, which can cause abnormalities that lead to cancer.
Colonoscopy. It is recommended that people between ages 45 and 75 be screened regularly for colorectal cancer, and that anyone older only do so on the advisement of their doctor. People who have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps may need to be screened earlier, more often, or with specific sorts of tests, along with people who have ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease, or have undergone radiation treatment to their abdominal or pelvic area.
Lung cancer. This screening is recommended for people who smoke now or have quit within the last fifteen years, are between 50-80 years old, and have smoked on average a pack of cigarettes every day for a 20-year period. This test involves low-level uses of radiation and should only be performed on people at significantly elevated risk.
Prostate cancer. Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and United Preventive Services Task Force recommend that those with a penis talk to their doctor about a prostate cancer screening between ages 55 and 69.
While screenings are not guaranteed to spot cancer, they increase your odds of catching any developing cancer at more treatable stages. Guidelines vary slightly depending on the recommending agency – talk to your doctor about what screenings and frequencies are best for you.
Recommendation: Prostate Cancer: Screening | United States Preventive Services Taskforce
Cancer Screening Guidelines | Detecting Cancer Early
Cancer Screening Tests | CDC
Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations | Susan G. Komen®