ONE OF THE BEST WAYS to reduce cancer rates is to increase screenings. A screening exam is a medical test done when you’re healthy. Screenings provide a baseline and help your doctors find cancer at its most treatable stages.
Cancer screening recommendations vary, depending on the test or exam. They may also vary depending on your age, gender, personal health and family history. Not every cancer has a screening test, but here are some guidelines on the screenings you might be eligible for.
Breast cancer: National screening guidelines recommend yearly mammograms between the ages of 40–74. If you have a family history of breast cancer, speak with your health care provider about screening at an earlier age.
Cervical cancer: Women ages 25–65 should talk with their providers about screening with a Pap smear or HPV test and how often to have these exams.
Colon and rectal cancer: A colonoscopy is not the only option—consult your health care provider to determine which test is right for you. Per the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, most average-risk adults ages 45–75 can be screened once per year with an at-home stool blood test, every five years with a sigmoidoscopy or every 10 years with a colonoscopy.
Lung cancer: Once per year if you are between the ages 50–80, currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years and have an extensive smoking history, such as one pack a day for 30 years. Talk with your health care provider to determine your specific eligibility for a low-dose CT scan.
Ovarian cancer: In Kentucky, ovarian screening is free as part of ongoing study to assess the effectiveness of transvaginal ultrasonography in detecting ovarian cancers. All women over the age of 50, or women over the age of 25 with a family history of ovarian cancer, are eligible for a free screening. For more information, visit https://ukhealthcare.uky.edu and search for ovarian cancer screening.
Prostate cancer: At age 50, men should talk with their health care provider about pros and cons of testing to decide if it’s the right choice for them.
Skin cancer: Once per year is recommended, but it is best to speak to a dermatologist to determine your risk.
Most importantly, pay attention to your body and let your health care provider know about any changes.