The American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings for certain types of cancer.
Women, for example, should perform a self-examination for breast cancer, every month after they turn 18. Every three years, a doctor should examine the breasts of women between the ages of 18 and 40. The doctor examination should be performed annually after age 40. Between the ages 35 and 40, a mammogram should be taken as a baseline. Then, the mammogram should be taken every one to two years between ages 40 and 49. After age 50, the test should be taken annually.
Women between ages 18 and 65 also should receive a Papanicolaou (Pap) smear annually to screen for cervical cancer. Between ages 18 and 40, women should undergo an evaluation of the pelvis every one to three years to screen for uterine, cervical and ovarian cancer. After age 40, a pelvic exam should come annually.
For men over age 50, a screening for prostate cancer should be completed yearly (45 for high risk individuals). The screening includes a blood test for prostate specific antigen (PSA) and rectal examination. Men should receive a rectal exam annually after age 40 to screen for rectal and colon cancer. After age 50, that should include stool examination. Every three to four years after age 50, the rectal and colon cancer screening should include a sigmoidoscopy.