You probably know that the earlier you find cancer, the better. But do you know which screening tests can find cancer early and when you should get those tests?
It’s important to find cancer before you have any symptoms. That’s why regular cancer screening tests should always be a part of you and your family’s healthcare. These screenings can catch changes in your body before they turn into cancer.
We checked in with the American Cancer Society and put together this guide to the screening tests you should know about and when you should get them.
Make sure you know how your breasts normally look and feel. That way you can tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes. Doctors use mammograms (X-rays of the breast) to check for signs of cancer. Here’s when to get regular mammograms.
- Ages 40-44: If you don’t want to wait, you can start yearly mammograms now.
- Ages 45-54: Start yearly mammograms.
- 55+: Mammograms every year or every 2 years.
HPV (Human Papillomavirus) can cause cervical cancer in women. Screening and tests can help your doctor tell if you are at risk. Even if you had the vaccine, you should still start regular screenings when you turn 25.
- Ages 25-65: A primary screening every 5 years.
If you can’t get a primary test, get a co-test (HPV test with a Pap test) every 5 years OR a Pap test every 3 years.
- Age 65+: If you had normal test results the last 10 years, you don’t need any more tests.
Colon and Rectal Cancer and Polyps
Regular screening for colon and rectal cancer is important. These are done with a sensitive test that looks for cancer in a person’s stool or by a visual test that looks at the colon and rectum. Talk to your provider about which test is right for you.
- Age 45: Start getting screened.
- Ages 45-75: Yearly screenings if you’re in good health.
- Ages 75-85: Ask your doctor if you still need regular tests.
- Age 85+: No longer need screenings.
Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for lung cancer and how to quit smoking, vaping, or using chewing tobacco if you still do. You should get a lung cancer screening once a year if your doctor thinks you have a high risk and you:
- Are ages
55-74 and in fairly good health
smoke or have quit smoking in the past 15 years
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.)
Men should talk with their healthcare provider about whether to get tested for prostate cancer. A prostate cancer screening is called a PSA test. There’s a lot to learn about what we do and don’t know about testing and treatment for prostate cancer. An informed decision will be your best decision. Learn more at https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/about.html.
- Age 45: Talk to your doctor about PSA testing if you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65.
- Age 50: Talk to your doctor about getting tested.
If you have gone through menopause (stopped having your period), you should know about the symptoms and risks of endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus). While there is no screening test for this kind of cancer, you can catch it early if you notice symptoms (like vaginal bleeding or spotting that is not normal) and tell your doctor right away. Learn more about endometrial cancer symptoms here: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/endometrial-cancer.html
For details about cancer screening tests and which ones are covered by your healthcare plan, visit https://www.healthybluemo.com/missouri-medicaid/benefits/medicaid-benefits.html.
To learn more about preventing cancer, visit cancer.org.