Are You Current on Your Cancer Screenings?
Here’s a sobering fact: approximately four out of 10 men and women in the U.S. will develop cancer in their lifetime. In 2023, an estimated 609,820 people will die of cancer in the United States. Tragically, many of these deaths could have been prevented through routine screenings.
By checking your body for cancer before symptoms appear means any cancer found can be treated early, when treatment is likely to work best.
If you’re unsure if you’re current on screenings, contact your medical provider to learn what screening tests are recommended for someone your age and with any specific risk factors you might have, such as a family or personal history of cancer, lifestyle choices, existing medical conditions, or procedures performed.
If you’re at average risk, the following recommendations (based on current U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendations) should be followed.
Cancer Screening Guidelines for Average Risk Adults
Skin Cancer: Talk to your medical provider at any age about any changes to your skin or if you have symptoms such as changes in the size, shape, or color of skin growths, or if you have irregular moles.
Pap test recommended for people with a cervix every 3 years, beginning at age 21.
Pap test recommended every 3 years, or a HPV test alone every 5 years, or both Pap and HPV test every 5 years.
Breast Cancer: Mammograms guidelines can be confusing. At minimum a screening mammogram is recommended every 2 years for people assigned female at birth who have breasts, beginning at age 40 who are of average risk. Speak with your primary care provider about what type of breast screening schedule is best for you.
Colorectal Cancer: Colorectal cancer screening recommended beginning at age 45. Stool-based tests and visual exams (i.e., colonoscopy) are options. Frequency depends on the type of screening test. Talk to your medical provider about which option is best for you.**
Cervical Cancer: Continue Pap test and/or HPV testing.
Lung Cancer: At age 50, if you have a history of smoking, talk to your medical provider about getting a low-dose CT scan every year, until age 80.
Breast Cancer: Continue with the breast cancer screening schedule you and your provider choose but with a minimum of mammograms every 2 years until age 74.
Cervical Cancer: Continue Pap test and/or HPV testing, until age 65.
Colorectal Cancer: Continue screening for colorectal cancer. After age 75 discuss with your medical provider.
Rebecca Hewson-Steller, RN, CN-BN is an oncology nurse at the Dartmouth Health Cancer Center at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.