Detection of Cancer

Early detection and treatment are key to cancer survival. Routine screenings are intended to identify cancer at an early stage when less aggressive treatments have a greater chance of success. The decision about how often to have screening tests is best made by you and your doctor. Depending upon your individual risk factors your physician may recommend more frequent screening.

Cancer Screening Tests

Breast Cancer

Clinical Breast Exam: Women over 20 should practice monthly breast self-examination (BSE) and have a physician perform an examination every three years (every year for women over 40).

Mammogram: An annual screening mammogram is recommended beginning at age 40 for women of average risk. Women at higher risk should talk with their physician about beginning screening mammograms sooner.

Cancer of the Cervix/Uterus/Ovaries

Pap Test: Cells collected from the cervix are examined under a microscope to detect abnormal cells. A Pap test is recommended for all women over 21 (including those who have had a hysterectomy). After a woman has had three or more consecutive exams with normal findings, the Pap test may be performed less frequently, based on a woman's risk assessment.

Cancer of the Prostate

Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA): A screening blood test which measures a protein found on cancerous and non-cancerous tissue of the prostate. 

Cancer of the Colon and Rectum

Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) test: Directly measures blood in the stool. 

Sigmoidoscopy/Colonoscopy: A sigmoidoscopy examines the lower colon and rectum. A colonoscopy examines the entire colon and rectum. A gastroenterologist uses a flexible tubular instrument to identify polyps or signs of cancer. 

Everyone over the age of 45 should be routinely screened for colon and rectal cancer. Due to individual risk factors and family history, you should discuss with your physician which tests are appropriate.

There are other forms of cancer that do not have specific screening tests. Consult your physician as soon as possible if you have symptomatic changes in your body that concern you.