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What are the types of cancer screening tests?

Many different types of cancer screening tests exist, depending on the cancer you are screening for. Some of these tests include mammograms, colonoscopies, computed tomography (CT) scans, lab tests and many more.

Before testing takes place, a person should be identified as having a risk for those cancers. For instance, the best screening tool for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which is generally recommended by age 50 unless you have risk factors (a relative with colon cancer that occurred at a young age, for example). In this scenario, you may qualify for earlier screening.

Just because a test exists doesn't mean everyone should have it; some tests are advised only if the person is at risk. This is because many tests have false positives (while the test is positive, the person may not have the cancer). Such testing could lead to unnecessary radiation from scans, unnecessary biopsies or surgeries that can cause harm. Talk with your primary care doctor to decide which cancer screenings are right for you.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.