Women: Cancer Screenings You’ll Need, By Age

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When it comes to cancer, the best defense is often an offense in the form of routine screenings, especially because many cancers grow long before you’ll experience or recognize a symptom.

Screenings can include bloodwork, diagnostic imaging tests, a physical exam or a look at your personal and family health history. Most can be ordered by your primary care physician. Federal guidelines help us understand the peak risk period for certain cancers and screenings are recommended at those ages, which can differ based on your family history and gender.

Here are recommended cancer screenings for women (click here for cancer screenings for men):

Age 21-29
  • Breast Cancer – Screening is not needed unless you are at higher than average risk. Know how your breasts look and feel so you can tell your healthcare provider about any changes. Perform monthly self-exams.
  • Cervical Cancer – Have a Pap test every three years starting at age 21. You do not need an HPV test unless the Pap results are abnormal.
  • Colorectal Cancer – Talk to your healthcare provider about screening if you are at higher than average risk because of family history or genetic disorders.
  • Skin Cancer – Have a baseline skin check with a dermatologist that you repeat every one to three years.
Age 30-39
  • Breast Cancer – Screening is not needed unless you are at higher than average risk. Know how your breasts look and feel so you can tell your healthcare provider about any changes. Perform monthly self-exams.
  • Cervical Cancer – Starting at age 30, women at average risk should get Pap and HPV tests every five years or a Pap test every three years. If you had a hysterectomy for reasons not related to cervical cancer, you do not need testing.
  • Colorectal Cancer – Talk to your healthcare provider about screening if you are at higher than average risk because of family history or genetic disorders.
  • Skin Cancer – Your doctor might recommend screening based on your risk factors, including sun exposure and complexion.
Age 40-49
  • Breast Cancer – Starting at age 40, you should start annual mammogram screenings. If you are at higher than average risk, talk to your healthcare provider to see if you need other tests as well.
  • Cervical Cancer – You should have Pap and HPV tests every five years or a Pap test every three. If you have a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer, continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.
  • Colorectal Cancer – Talk to your healthcare provider about screening if you are at higher than average risk because of family history or genetic disorders.
  • Skin Cancer – Your doctor might recommend screening based on your risk factors, including sun exposure and complexion.
Age 50-64
  • Breast Cancer – Women ages 50-54 should get mammograms every year. Starting at age 55, you can continue every year or switch to every two years.
  • Cervical Cancer – Continue to get Pap and HPV tests every five years or just a Pap test every three.
  • Colorectal Cancer – All people at average risk should start testing at age 50. Talk with your healthcare provider if you haven’t started yet and about which tests are best for you.
  • Lung Cancer – If you are age 55 or older and are an active or former smoker (quit within the last 15 years), talk to your healthcare provider about your smoking history and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer.
  • Skin Cancer – Your doctor might recommend screening based on your risk factors, including sun exposure and complexion.
Age 65 and older
  • Breast Cancer – Continue getting mammograms every one or two years.
  • Cervical Cancer – You do not need to continue testing if you have had normal results on your regular cervical cancer testing for the past 10 years.
  • Colorectal Cancer – Testing is recommended through age 75. If you are ages 76 to 85, talk with your healthcare provider about continued screening. Most people over the age of 85 should no longer need to be screened.
  • Lung Cancer – Talk to your healthcare provider about your smoking history and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer.
  • Skin Cancer – Your doctor might recommend screening based on your risk factors, including sun exposure and complexion.

For more information, click here.

 


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