The evidence is strong that you can lower your cancer risk by making healthy choices like avoiding tobacco use, getting plenty of exercise, eating healthy foods. Getting the recommended cancer screenings tests is also an essential part of understanding and reducing your risk of cancer. Cancer screening tests are done before you have symptoms. They can find cancer at an early stage – when treatment is most effective. Screenings may include a physical exam, a review of your medical history, laboratory tests, imaging tests, and genetic counseling and testing.
Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida offers screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal, endometrial, liver, lung, ovarian, prostate and skin cancer. While some tests are recommended for the general population, others are only recommended for people with certain conditions or a family health history that increases their risk for cancer. You and your doctor should work together to decide which screening tests you need, when to begin them, and how often to repeat them. It’s important to remember that if your doctor suggests a screening test, it does not always mean he or she thinks you have cancer.
Guidelines Doctors at Miami Cancer Institute follow evidence-based screening guidelines from leading medical groups such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the American Cancer Society.
Women between the ages of 50 and 74 who have an average risk for breast cancer should have a mammogram done every two years. Women between the ages of 40 and 49 who have an average risk should discuss when to begin and how often to have a mammogram with their doctors.
Women should have their first Pap smear to test for cervical cancer at age 21. If your test result is normal, you may wait three years until your next Pap smear. Beginning at age 30, you should talk to your doctor about the best testing option for you: Pap smear every three years, HPV test every five years, or both Pap smear and HPV test every five years. Once you turn 65, you may no longer need to be screened for cervical cancer if you had normal test results for many years or a total hysterectomy for a noncancerous condition.
Adults at average risk and age 45 to 75 should be screened for colorectal cancer using one of the following screening options:
- High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test every 1 -2 years.
- Stool DNA test every 3 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years.
- Computed tomography colonography (Virtual colonoscopy) every five years – a colonoscopy will be performed if polyps are found.
- Sigmoidoscopy every 3-5 years.
You and your doctor will discuss which option is most appropriate for you.
Women who have been diagnosed with or have a family history of Lynch Syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer) should have a transvaginal ultrasound every year to test for endometrial cancer.
People with a high risk for liver cancer due to chronic hepatitis B or cirrhosis may benefit from a liver ultrasound and alpha-fetoprotein blood tests every six to 12 months.
Adults age 55 to 80 who have a history of heavy smoking and smoke now or have quit in the last 15 years should have a low-dose computed tomography scan for lung cancer every year.
Women who are at a high risk for ovarian cancer due to BRCA mutations, a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or Lynch syndrome may benefit from a transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test every six to12 months.
Men between the ages of 55 and 69 should talk to their doctors about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening tests such as the digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen test.
Doctors recommend regular skin exams for people who have a personal or family history of skin cancer or certain conditions that increase their risk for skin cancer.