How often should I be screened for specific cancers?

Different cancer screenings have different guidelines. For example, colon cancer screening via colonoscopy should begin at age 50, while cervical cancer screening via a Pap smear should begin at age 21. Unfortunately, most cancers don't yet have great screening tools, so it is important to get yearly checkups for health counseling and risk assessment. People with family history of cancer (in a first degree relative) often have different screening strategies than people without that family history. Taking charge of your own health via preventive care (like using sunscreen and not smoking cigarettes) is the most important way to prevent cancer.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Here is a list of how frequently you should be screened for certain cancers:
  1. Breast cancer: breast self-exams monthly and by a doctor once or twice a year—once by general doc and once by your gynecologist. You should get a baseline mammogram between ages 35 and 40 and then yearly ones starting at age 40 (higher-risk women use MRI screening). I do not recommend cutting back to every other year in older women. If you have dense breasts, your gynecologist may recommend a sonogram as well as a mammogram, alternating every six months.
  2. Prostate cancer: yearly digital rectal exam starting at age 40 (yes, really). Talk with your doctor about whether you should also get a yearly PSA to measure change (the change in PSA over time is a better predictor than the absolute number).
  3. Colon cancer: colonoscopy starting at age 50, then every 10 years, with additional screening (such as a hemoccult test, which measures blood in the stool) every five years.
  4. Cervical cancer: Pap tests every three years starting at age 21, then every five years after age 30 if you also get screened for the HPV virus. Women without uteruses should still have pelvic exams because of vaginal cancers and ovarian issues.
  5. Skin cancer: yearly check at every age by someone who is comfortable examining your whole body. For efficiency, tie exam into other activity. Any new or changing moles should be seen by a dermatologist.
You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

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You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

International bestselling authors of YOU: The Owner's Manual and YOU: On a Diet give you all the tools and know-how to stay young and defy the ageing process. Drawing lively parallels between your...