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Screening Guidelines

Early detection is one of the most important steps you can take in the fight against cancer. Why? Because early-stage cancers are generally easier to treat and have a greater chance for a cure. Here is a reference guide to the most common cancers and the current screening recommendations.

These are general guidelines only. If you have a family history of cancer or other factors that put you at high risk, then your doctor will personalize these tests to fit your specific needs.

Breast Cancer

20s & over - Breast self-exam monthly
20s & 30s - Clinical breast exam by physician at least every three years
40 & over - Clinical breast exam by physician annually
40 & over - Mammogram annually

Cervical Cancer

Starting at age 21 or within three years after first sexual intercourse:
Pap test (traditional) annually
Pap test (liquid based) every two years

Endometrial (uterine)

Starting at age 21 - Pelvic exam annually


Starting at age 21 - Pelvic exam annually


Starting at age 50 - One of the following test schedules:

Colonoscopy - Every 10 years

Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) annually
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
Yearly FOBT plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
Double-contrast barium enema every five years
CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years


Starting at age 50 - PSA blood test and digital rectal exam annually


After puberty - Self exam monthly and physician exam annually (Current guidelines show no value or harm from the self exams and physician exams, but since both are noninvasive and easy to do, it is a harmless way for screening.)

Sources: American Cancer Society; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation