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Cancer Screenings at All Ages

A guide to screening for cancer at any age.

Information from the American Cancer Society

21-29

If you are 21 to 29, these tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

Men

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

Women

Breast Cancer Testing Know what's normal for you and report any changes to your healthcare provider right away.

If you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about when you need to begin getting mammograms or other screenings. If you are not at higher than average risk, then testing is not needed at this time.

Cervical Cancer Testing Testing is not needed before age 21. Beginning at age 21 and continuing through age 29, all women should have a Pap smear test done every 3 years. HPV tests should not be done unless a Pap smear test is abnormal. You should follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

30-39

If you are 30 to 39, these tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

Men

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

Women

Breast Cancer Testing Know what's normal for you and report any changes to your healthcare provider right away.

If you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about when you need to begin getting mammograms or other screenings. If you are not at higher than average risk, then testing is not needed at this time.

Cervical Cancer Testing Beginning at age 30, women at average risk should get a Pap smear test and an HPV test every 5 years (the preferred approach) or they can continue to get only a Pap test every 3 years.

You should follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

You don't need testing after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

40-49

If you are 40 to 49, these tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

Men

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

Prostate Cancer Testing Starting at age 45, men with increased risk of prostate cancer should talk with their doctor about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested. This includes African-American men and men with close family members (father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.

Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at even higher risk and should talk with a doctor about testing starting at age 40.

Women

Breast Cancer Testing Starting at age 40, women have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. The pros and cons of screening should be considered when making this decision.

If you're at higher than average risk for breast cancer, talk to a healthcare provider about when you need to start getting mammograms and whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know what's normal for you and report any changes to a healthcare provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing Starting at age 40, women should get a Pap smear test and an HPV test done every 5 years (preferred approach) or get just a Pap test every 3 years.

You should follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

You don't need testing after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

Colon Cancer Testing If you are at an increased risk due to family history, genetic disorders or other factors, you should talk to your healthcare provider about when you should begin testing, and what tests are right for you. If you are not at a higher than average risk, no testing is needed at this time.

50-64

If you are 50 to 64, these tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

Men

Colon Cancer Testing All people at average risk should start testing at age 50. Talk with your healthcare provider about which screening method is right for you and how often you should be getting screened.

Prostate Cancer Testing Starting at age 50, all men at average risk should talk with a healthcare provider about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested.

Lung Cancer Testing If you are 55 or older, talk to your healthcare provider about your smoking history and whether you should get a yearly low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit you if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, risks and potential costs of screening with a healthcare provider before testing is done. Not all health insurances cover this screening.

Women

Breast Cancer Testing Women aged 50 to 64 should get a mammogram every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.

Some women may decide to get a mammogram every two years, the decision is up to you and your healthcare provider.

If you're at higher than average risk for breast cancer talk to a healthcare provider about when you need to start getting mammograms and whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know what's normal for you and report any changes to a healthcare provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing Get a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years (preferred approach) or Pap test alone every 3 years.

No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

Colon Cancer Testing All people at average risk should start testing at age 50. Talk with your healthcare provider about which screening method is right for you and how often you should be getting screened.

Lung Cancer Testing If you are 55 or older, talk to your healthcare provider about your smoking history and whether you should get a yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, risks, and potential costs of screening with a healthcare provider before testing is done. Not all health insurances cover this screening.

65+

Men

Colon Cancer Testing Testing for colon cancer is recommended up through age 75. People aged 76 to 85 should talk with their healthcare provider about whether continuing screening is right for them. Most people older than 85 should no longer be screened. If you choose to continue screening, there are many testing options. Talk to your healthcare provider about which tests are best for you and how often you should be screened.

Prostate Cancer Testing Overall health status and age are important when making decisions about prostate cancer testing. Men who can expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with their healthcare provider about the uncertainties, risks and benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be screened.

Lung Cancer Testing If you have a smoking history, talk to a healthcare provider about it and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations and risks of screening with your healthcare provider.

Women

Breast Cancer Testing Women aged 65 to 74 can get a mammogram every 2 years or choose to get one every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.

Women age 75 and older who can expect to live at least 10 more years may wish to continue screening after discussion of the risk and benefits with their healthcare provider.

If you're at higher than average risk for breast cancer talk to a healthcare provider about when you need to start getting mammograms and whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

It's also important to know what's normal for you and report any changes to a healthcare provider right away.

Cervical Cancer Testing Testing is not necessary if you've had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results for the previous 10 years.

No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix as long as it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

Colon Cancer Testing Testing for colon cancer is recommended up through age 75. People aged 76 to 85 should talk with their healthcare provider about whether continuing screening is right for them. Most people older than 85 should no longer be screened. If you choose to continue screening, there are many testing options. Talk to your healthcare provider about which tests are best for you and how often you should be screened.

Lung Cancer Testing If you have a smoking history, talk to a healthcare provider about it and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations and risks of screening with your healthcare provider.

600,000 Stories

Betty Jansen has never smoked and wasn't considered at risk for lung cancer. Then a screening found a spot. Watch Betty's story.