Being able to detect cancer before symptoms appear may improve the chances for treatment to be successful, as well as improve the chances of survival. Cancer screenings can help to detect the early onset of cancer even if no symptoms are showing. Some recommend screening tests include breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancers because of the benefits of detecting cancer early.

The following are recommended guidelines for adults, based upon age. However, family history, current symptoms, or personal risk factors may change your screening recommendations. It is important to discuss these guidelines with your physician in order to establish a cancer screening plan that is individualized for you.

In your 20s:

  • Starting at age 21, women should be tested for cervical cancer. Pap tests are recommended every 3 years until age 29. HPV (human papillomavirus) testing for women in their 20s is not recommended unless Pap smear test results are abnormal.
  • Men and women should do monthly self-exams for changes in skin or moles, as well as annual exams by their physician.

In your 30s:

  • Women in their 30s should continue the basic Pap test every 3 years or opt for co-testing (Pap test plus HPV test) to be performed every 5 years.
  • Men and women should continue to do monthly self-exams for changes in skin or moles, as well as annual exams by their physician.

In your 40s:

  • Women should continue Pap testing every 3 years or Pap plus HPV testing every 5 years.
  • Women between the ages of 40 and 44 may opt to start annual mammograms to screen for breast cancer.
  • By age 45, all women should start yearly mammogram screenings.
  • By age 45, men who have a family history of prostate cancer that was diagnosed before age 65, or who are African American, should ask their doctors whether they are candidates for early prostate screenings.
  • Men and women should continue to do monthly self-exams for changes in skin or moles, as well as annual exams by their physician.

In your 50s:

  • Women in their 50s should continue Pap screens every 3 years or co-testing every 5 years.
  • After menopause, any vaginal bleeding or spotting should be reported to a health care provider to rule out endometrial (uterine) cancer.
  • Yearly mammograms are advised for women until age 55. Starting at age 56, women may wish to talk with their doctor about decreasing screenings every 2 years.
  • At age 50, all men should discuss the positives and negatives of prostate cancer screening including PSA blood levels and possible rectal exams with their health care provider. PSA results determine the frequency of future screenings.
  • By age 55, annual lung cancer screenings may be recommended for both men and women, who are in good health if they have 30 pack-year smoking histories, still smoke, or have quit smoking within the past 15 years. Screening consists of a low-dose CT scan of the chest.
  • Starting at age 50, both men and women should begin colorectal screening by colonoscopy every 10 years or a yearly fecal immunochemical test. Other screening options are available that can be discussed with their physician.
  • Men and women should continue to do monthly self-exams for changes in skin or moles, as well as annual exams by their physicians.

In your 60s and 70s:

  • Mammograms should continue for women who are in good health and are expected to live 10 years or longer since breast cancer increases with age.
  • Pap test or co-testing should continue until age 65. Beyond this age, testing is based on previous Pap results and should be discussed with a physician.
  • Colorectal screenings are recommended until age 75.
  • Yearly lung cancer screenings should continue through age 74 for current smokers as well as those who have smoked within the past 15 years.
  • PSA and rectal exams can be continued throughout a man’s 60s and 70s. Some men continue testing until age 85, but consult your doctor on when to discontinue prostate screening.
  • Men and women should continue to do monthly self-exams for changes in skin or moles, as well as annual exams by their physician.

 Screening Services Ackerman Cancer Center Offers

Some of the screening services offered at Ackerman Cancer Center include Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT) scans, Digital Mammography with Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) scans, and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) test.

  • Low-Dose Computed Tomography (CT): A low-dose CT takes several 3D X-ray images of the lungs, providing much more detail than traditional X-rays. These CT scans are often able to detect early-stage lung cancers that may be too small to be detected by traditional X-rays.
  • Digital Mammography with Computer-Aided Detection (CAD): Digital imaging is used to search for abnormal areas of density, mass, or calcification that may indicate the presence of cancer.
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: The PSA test measures the level of prostate-specific antigen in a man’s blood. A sample of blood is taken and analyzed to screen for prostate cancer.

For more information on these screening services, please contact Ackerman Cancer Center at (904) 880-5522 or visit our diagnostic services page.