Research has shown that cancer detected in its early, less developed stages is significantly easier to address and treat. In order to help patients identify problems before they arise, knowing which preventative cancer screenings are necessary is an important first step.
“It’s a good idea to discuss the latest recommendations for cancer screenings with your primary-care doctor during your annual visit,” said Dr. Rebecca B. Newman, medical director of the Adult Primary Care Center at Westchester Medical Center, the flagship of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network.
Below, she shared her recommendations on when to begin preventative screening, and how to plan for future health:
Breast Cancer - Women should begin annual mammograms at 40, but earlier if risk factors are present. Go to the same imaging center each year (transfer your records if needed) for comparisons with previous tests.
Cervical Cancer - Starting at age 21, undergo an annual gynecological exam to check for infections and skin cancers, and get a pap smear to screen for cervical cancer every three years. At age 30 and beyond, pap smears may decrease to every five years for women who receive both HPV tests and pap smears. At ages 65 to 75, pap smears may be stopped, or the frequency may be decreased, depending upon test results.
Colon Cancer - Starting at age 50, everyone should receive a colonoscopy every 10 years, or more frequently as recommended by a primary care doctor or GI specialist. Alternative screening is an annual fecal occult blood test.
Lung Cancer - A low-dose CAT scan is recommended for smokers and former smokers; frequency depends upon how much they’ve smoked and when they quit.
To learn more about prostate, ovarian and skin cancer screening, continue reading via Advancing Care in the Hudson Valley.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force offers a free app to search recommendations by age, gender and selected risks. Click here to learn more.