Taking charge of your health matters, especially as COVID-19 surges. You can do this with regular cancer screening, which can detect cancers early, when they are most treatable or even curable.
Since all cancer screening presents benefits, limitations, and potential harms, you should discuss it with your doctor. Here are some helpful guidelines.
Striking one out of every eight women, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, next to skin cancer. The care team at Weill Cornell Medicine urges you to familiarize yourself with how your breasts look and feel, so you can tell your doctor about any unusual lumps, pain, or changes in size.
Weill Cornell Medicine experts recommend that women at risk for breast cancer begin their annual mammograms at age 40. For patients who are 55 and older, they can either switch to mammograms every 2 years or continue with yearly screening.
We understand that many patients may have questions before and after receiving their mammogram results. As always, our radiologists are available to answer any questions. Our team is available to help navigate patients through breast imaging exams. Please visit here to learn more about our Breast Imaging Consultations services.
This is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women between the ages of 35 and 44; the average age at diagnosis is 50. Two standard screenings for cervical cancer are:
Women should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If their result is normal, then they may wait three years until their next Pap test. Women ages 30 to 65 years may need:
Women older than 65 may not need any more screening if they have had:
Colorectal cancer usually begins with polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. To screen for colorectal cancer, your doctor will examine a sample of your stool, or conduct a visual exam of your colon and rectum to find cancer in its early stage, or polyps before they turn cancerous.
Regular screening should start at age 45, or earlier if you have a:
Continue regular screening:
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women and the leading cause of cancer death. Found early, it may be treated successfully. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends yearly lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) for people who:
*A pack-year is smoking an average of one pack of cigarettes per day for one year. Smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years equals a 20 pack-year history.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States and worldwide, affecting 1 in 5 Americans by age 70. The two most common—and curable—types of skin cancer are basal and squamous cell carcinomas. Melanoma is the deadliest.
Screening for skin cancer entails a yearly, full-body, skin exam (more often if you are high-risk), during which your dermatologist will check for:
Recognizing the signs of melanoma is especially important. These A-B-C-D-Es can help:
Prostate cancer is the second leading cancer death among American men after lung cancer. Most prostate cancers are detected when confined to the prostate, and treatment success rates exceed those of most other cancers. Still, there are aggressive forms of the disease, which is why you and your doctor must carefully weigh the benefits of screening. We urge you to learn about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening and discuss it with your doctor at age:
The two most common forms of screening are the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and the digital rectal exam (DRE), which indicates if your prostate is enlarged or irregular. If screening detects no prostate cancer, then the results of your PSA blood test will determine whether you should be retested yearly or every two years.