Screening Recommendations for Early Cancer Detection

Unless otherwise noted, this information applies to people who have an average risk of getting cancer (no family history of cancer and no symptoms of cancer evident). Those in high-risk populations may need more intesive or alternate screening.

For everyone over the age 20, regular checkups should include a cancer-related exam that checks for cancers of the thyroid, testicles, ovaries, lymph nodes, oral cavity, and skin. The appointment should also offer counseling about tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, risk factors, sexual practices, and environmental and occupational risk factors

Screening Recommendations for Men

Cancer Type Starting Age Test or Procedure Description Frequency
Colorectal 50+ Those with a family history (parent or sibling with colorectal cancer at age younger than 60) should begin screening at age 50 or 10 years before the relative's age of diagnosis, whichever is earlier.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) Involves taking a sample of your feces to determine if there is any hidden blood Annually starting at age 50
Flexible sigmoidoscopy A slender, hollow, lighted tube is placed into the rectum to help find cancer or polyps on the inside of the rectum and part of the colon. Every 5 years, starting at age 50
Colonoscopy Typically done under sedation, this is an examination of the colon with a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. Every 10 years, starting at age 50
Prostate 50+ Make an informed decision about screening with your doctor. Men in high-risk groups, such as African Americans or those with family history of prostate cancer, should have this discussion starting at age 45.
Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) A blood test to determine the level of gland protein made primarily by the prostate Annually or every two years, depending on previous PSA level
Digital Rectal Exam (DRE) The doctor inserts a gloved finger into the rectum to feel for anything not normal At same time as PSA screening

Screening Recommendations for Women

Cancer Type Starting Age Test or Procedure Description Frequency

Breast

For more information about screening decisions, see our FAQ.

20+ Clinical breast exam Performed by a health professional Every 3 years
  40+

Mammogram and clinical breast exam

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray exam of the breast. Clinical breast exams are performed by a health professional.

Every year

20+ Optional breast self exam Self exam has benefits and limitations; discuss with your doctor Regularly, usually monthly after their period
Breast - women at high risk of cancer 30+

In addition to above, contrast-enhanced breast MRI

Requires administration of contrast and about one hour to perform

Every year

 

Cervix 21-29 Pap test and pelvic examination A pap test involves scraping some cells from the cervix and examining them under a microscope to see if abnormal cells are present. The procedure is performed by a physician as part of a pelvic exam. Every 3 years
30–65 Pap test and HPV test See above for pap test. An HPV test is performed at the same time and checks for the virus that can cause cell changes. Every five years for Pap test and HPV test combined (preferred). Every 3 years for Pap test alone.
65+ or following a hysterectomy with removal of cervix None No screening for those with a history of regular testing with normal results. Women with a history of serious cervical pre-cancer should to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis.
Colorectal 50+ Those with a family history (parent or sibling with colorectal cancer at age younger than 60) should begin screening at age 50 or 10 years before the relative's age of diagnosis, whichever is earlier.
    Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or fecal occult blood test (FOBT) Involves taking a sample of your feces to determine if there is any hidden blood Annually starting at age 50
    Flexible sigmoidoscopy A slender, hollow, lighted tube is placed into the rectum to help find cancer or polyps on the inside of the rectum and part of the colon. Every 5 years, starting at age 50
    Colonoscopy Typically done under sedation, this is an examination of the colon with a long, flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope. Every 10 years, starting at age 50