Make Time for Cancer Screening

The following information is a summary of the American Cancer Society early cancer detection guidelines. Full guidelines are available at


It is recommended that women have regular yearly mammograms starting at age 45 until age 54 . Once a woman turns 55 year old, she should get a mammogram every two years, if she is healthy and expected to live at least 10 more years. A woman who is familiar with the look and feel of her breasts might notice and report changes more quickly than those who don’t perform self-exams on a regular basis. Women at high risk for breast cancer should talk to their physician about the best way to screen for breast cancer


Most people should start getting screened for cancer of the rectum or colon at age 45. For those who
remain in good health, the guidelines recommend continued screening on a regular basis until age 76. At that point, they recommend that you talk to your physician to determine if and what type of colon and rectum screening you should receive. Those at high risk for these types of cancer might need more thorough screening more frequently, so a physician consultation is in order.


The guidelines recommend that, starting at 21 years of age, women should have Pap testing done every three years. Once a woman turns 30, the guidelines recommend having a Pap test and HPV test every five years. At age 65 or older, a healthy woman who has been regularly screened for cervical cancer with normal results can bypass being screened for cervical cancer moving forward. Different guidelines for screening apply, however, for women who have either tested positive for serious cervical pre-cancer, have had partial or total hysterectomies for other non-cancer related reasons, or have had certain other serious medical conditions (e.g., HIV), and should be discussed with their treating physician.


The guidelines suggest that all women undergoing menopause be informed regarding the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Unexpected vaginal bleeding should be discussed with the treating physician.


People who are fairly healthy AND are current smokers or stopped smoking within the last 15 years AND are smoking/have smoked two packs or more a day for at least a year should be screened for lung cancer annually.


The guidelines recommend that men age 50 years or older should be educated by their physician regarding the pros and cons of prostate cancer screening. African American men and men with fathers or brothers who had prostate cancer before age 65 should, at 45 years of age, consult with their physician regarding prostate cancer screening.

To access the complete guidelines on cancer screening or for additional information on cancer, including reducing your risk factors, please visit the American Cancer Society’s website or call1-800- 227-2345

SOURCE: American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. Last Medical Review: May
30, 2018 Last Revised: May 30, 2018. guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html. Accessed 6 Mar 2019.

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