Start the Year Right, Get Screened for Cancer

There are approximately 14.5 million cancer survivors in the U.S. today—a number that is expected to grow to almost 19 million by 2024, according to a recent report from the American Cancer Society (ACS). The report attributes this good news, in part, to improvements in cancer screening.

Cancer screenings enable medical providers to catch cancer in the early stages when the disease is most treatable. That’s why they are so important. Following are screening guidelines from MedStar Health Cancer Network for a few of the most common cancers. Some individuals may need earlier or more frequent screenings depending on their risk factors. This is something you should discuss with your doctor.

BREAST

  • Screenings are recommended for all women. Breast exam by a medical provider (every three years for women ages 20 to 39 and every year after age 40)
  • Annual mammograms and breast exams by a medical provider for women ages 40 and older, or younger if at high risk

CERVICAL

Screenings are recommended for all women age 21 and older, or upon becoming sexually active.

  • Periodic Pap tests with frequency based on age (after three normal tests, a woman may need less frequently)

Free breast and cervical screenings are available to women who are age 40 and older, with limited income and are uninsured or underinsured. Call 410-350-2066 to see if you qualify.

COLORECTAL

Screenings are recommended for all adults age 50 and older, or younger if at high risk.

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Fecal occult blood test every year
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or
  • Double-contrast barium enema every
    five years

Free colorectal screenings are available to individuals age 50 and older, with limited income, and uninsured or underinsured. Call 410-350-8216 to see if you qualify.

LUNG

Screenings are recommended for individuals who are at high risk based on the following criteria:

  • 55 to 77 years of age
  • A smoker of a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years or more
  • Currently smoking or have quit fewer than 15 years ago

PROSTATE

Screenings can be beneficial for men age 50 and older, or younger if at high risk. Men should talk to their medical provider about the value of two tests:

  • Digital rectal exams
  • Prostate-specific antigen blood tests

This article appeared in the winter 2017 issue of Good Health. Read more articles from this issue.

Learn More

Learn more about cancer screening and diagnosis.