Cancer Screening and Tests for Early Detection

Cancer screening increases the chances of early cancer detection, when cancers are most likely to be curable. Cancer screening guidelines have been undergoing some changes and can be confusing, but here is what we generally recommend:

  • breast cancer: Breast screening for all women 40 and above; clinical breast exam about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over; breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s  
  • colon cancer: Colon screening for all men and women over 50  
  • prostate cancer: Prostate screening for high-risk men, particularly African American men (after thorough discussion of the risks and benefits with a medical provider)
  • skin cancer: Skin surveillance for anyone with risk factors
  • cervical cancer: Cervical testing should begin at age 21
  • oral cancer: Screening during routine dental exams
  • other screening based on family or personal history

Talk with your doctor about the possibility that your personal and/or family history may be related to an inherited cancer syndrome. Screenings guidelines can vary if your cancer is caused by an inherited cancer syndrome. Learn more about the potential signs of hereditary cancer through our Clinical Cancer Genetics Program.

Learn more about screening guidelines.