Cancer screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early—when they are most likely to be curable. It’s important for both men and women to have regular physical exams and to talk with their doctors about early detection, screening guidelines and family history. Your doctor will review information and risk factors with you to make a well-informed decision about screening procedures. Here is a summary of the recommended screening timeline for both men and women.
Colorectal cancer screening should begin for both men and women at the age of 50. It is recommended that a colonoscopy be performed every 10 years.
Skin cancer is common among men and women of all ages. It’s important to look out for skin abnormalities and immediately report to your doctor. Doctors recommend self skin checks once a month.
Lung cancer is another common form of cancer, but there is typically no screening recommended for those of average risk. Some individuals 55 or older with a history of smoking may be candidates for screening.
There are various forms of cancer that affect both men and women, but currently there are no screening techniques. Kidney and blood cancers, like leukemia and lymphoma are examples of these cancers. Pancreatic is a fast spreading form of cancer, and oftentimes there are no symptoms until the cancer as progressed. There is no sure way to tell if someone has pancreatic cancer. Those with a family history can be tested via endoscopy.
Cancer Screening Guidelines for Men
Prostate cancer screening offers the greatest benefit to men ages 55 or older. Beginning at 50 or older, men should discuss screening for prostate cancer with their health care provider. Those with a family history of prostate cancer should have this discussion with their doctor when they reach 45 years of age.
Cancer Screening Guidelines for Women
Breast cancer awareness and screening should begin early. Clinical breast exams are recommended at least every 3 years for women in their 20’s and 30’s. Once a woman reaches 40 years of age, she should have a mammogram and a clinical breast exam performed once a year.
Cervical cancer screening should begin once women reach the age of 21. Pap smears for women between the ages of 21 and 29 should be performed at least every 3 years. Even if a woman is not planning on having children, or is sexually inactive, regular Pap smears are important to maintaining cervical health.
Ovarian cancer screening is not recommended. An annual gynecologic examination with pelvic examination is recommended as preventive care.
Endometrial cancer and other uterine cancers do not have specific testing guidelines. Around the time of menopause, women should consult with their doctors about risks and symptoms, and continue to have regular pelvic exams.