Reminders

Screening Recommendations By Age

The choices you make about diet, exercise, and other habits can affect your overall health as well as your risk for developing cancer and other serious diseases. It’s also important to follow recommendations for cancer screening tests. Screening tests are used to find cancer in people who have no symptoms. Screening gives you the best chance of finding cancer as early as possible – while it’s small and before it has spread.

The tabs below provide information on healthy lifestyle choices that can help lower your cancer risk, and cancer screening test recommendations by age and gender.

 

HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHOICES FOR MEN AND WOMEN

Stay away from tobacco.
There is no safe form of tobacco. If you smoke or chew tobacco, stop! Encourage the people around you to quit. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 for help, or see our Guide to Quitting Smoking or our Guide to Quitting Smokeless Tobacco to learn more about quitting.

It’s also important to stay away from tobacco smoke (secondhand smoke). It also causes cancer, as well as other health problems.

Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk for many types of cancer. You can control your weight with the choices you make about healthy eating and exercise:
- Avoiding excessive weight gain throughout life
- Balance the calories you take in with the amount of physical activity you do

If you are overweight, try to get to a healthy weight and stay there. Losing even a small amount of weight has health benefits and is a good place to start. Watching your portion sizes is an important part of weight control – especially for foods high in fat and sugar. Low-fat and fat-free doesn’t always mean low-calorie, so read labels and try to eat vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in the place of higher-calorie foods.

Get moving.
Adults: Get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week.

Children and adolescents: Get at least 1 hour of moderate- or vigorous-intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week.

Moderate activity is anything that makes you breathe as hard as you do during a brisk walk. During moderate activities, you’ll notice a slight increase in heart rate and breathing. You should be able to talk, but not sing during the activity. Vigorous activities are performed at a higher intensity. They cause an increased heart rate, sweating, and a faster breathing rate.

Don’t be a couch potato - limit the amount of time you spend sitting.

Doing some physical activity above usual activities, no matter what one’s level of activity, can have many health benefits.

Eat healthy.
Eat at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day. They contain many vitamins and minerals, fiber, antioxidants, and other good-for-you substances. Because they are generally low in fat and calories, they may also help you stay at a healthy weight, which helps reduce your risk of cancer.

Choose whole-grain bread, pasta, and cereal instead of processed (refined) grains. Look for whole wheat, pumpernickel, rye, or oats as the first ingredient on the food label.

Limit the amount of processed meats you eat (like cold cuts, bacon, and hot dogs), and your intake of red meats, such as beef, pork, and lamb. If you eat red meat, try lean meats and smaller portions. Also try skinless poultry, fish, or legumes (peas and beans) as healthier sources of protein.

Limit how much alcohol you drink
Men should have no more than 2 drinks per day, and women should have no more than 1 drink per day. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.

See our guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention for more on this.

At this age, a cancer-related check-up should be part of your periodic health exams and might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, and ovaries. A check-up should also include discussion of tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, physical activity, disease risk factors, sexual practices, and whether you’re exposed to any dangerous substances at work or at home.

These tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing
Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a health care provider right away.
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms or other tests.

Cervical Cancer Testing
No test is needed before age 21.
Starting at age 21 and through age 29 all women should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV tests should not be done unless a Pap test is abnormal.
Follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

At this age, a cancer-related check-up should be part of your periodic health exams and might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, and ovaries. A check-up should also include discussion of tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, physical activity, disease risk factors, sexual practices, and whether you are exposed to any dangerous substances at work or at home.

These tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing
Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a health care provider right away.
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms or other tests.

Cervical Cancer Testing
Starting at age 30, women at average risk should get a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years (the preferred approach) or they can continue to get only a Pap test every 3 years.
Follow testing recommendations even if you've been vaccinated against HPV.
No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix if it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

At this age, a cancer-related check-up should be part of your periodic health exams and might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, and ovaries. A check-up should also include discussion of tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, physical activity, disease risk factors, sexual practices, and whether you are exposed to any dangerous substances at work or at home.

These tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

Prostate Cancer Testing
Men at higher than average risk of prostate cancer should talk with a doctor about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing starting at age 45 so they can decide if they want to be tested. This includes African-American men and men with close family members (father, brother, son) who had prostate cancer before age 65.
Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at even higher risk and should talk with a doctor about testing starting at age 40.

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing

Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a health care provider right away.
Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The pros and cons of screening should be considered when making this decision.
Starting at age 45, women should get mammograms every year.

It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start getting mammograms and whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

Cervical Cancer Testing
Get a Pap test and an HPV test done every 5 years (preferred approach) or get just a Pap test every 3 years.
Follow testing recommendations even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV.
No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix if it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Colon Cancer Testing
Find out if you are at higher than average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. If you are at increased risk, talk to a health care provider about when you need to start testing and what tests are right for you.

At this age, a cancer-related check-up should be part of your periodic health exams and might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, and ovaries. A check-up should also include discussion of tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, physical activity, disease risk factors, sexual practices, and whether you are exposed to any dangerous substances at work or at home.

These tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing
All men at average risk should start testing at age 50. There are several testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

Prostate Cancer Testing
Starting at age 50, all men at average risk should talk with a health care provider about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested.

Lung Cancer Testing
If you are age 55 or older, talk to a health care provider about your smoking history and whether you should get yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, risks, and potential costs of screening with a health care provider before testing is done. You also should find out how much the test will cost – not all health insurances cover it.

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing
Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a health care provider right away.
Women ages 50 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.
Starting at age 55, you should switch to getting mammograms every 2 years, or you can continue to get one every year.
It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

Cervical Cancer Testing
Get a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years (preferred approach) or Pap test alone every 3 years.
Follow testing recommendations even if you have been vaccinated against HPV.
No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix if it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.

Colon Cancer Testing
All women at average risk should start testing at age 50. There are several testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

Lung Cancer Testing
If you are age 55 or older, talk to a health care provider about your smoking history and whether you should get yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, risks, and potential costs of screening with a health care provider before testing is done. You also should find out how much the test will cost – not all health insurances cover it.

At this age, a cancer-related check-up should be part of your periodic health exams and might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, mouth, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, and ovaries. A check-up should also include discussion of tobacco use, sun exposure, diet and nutrition, physical activity, disease risk factors, sexual practices, and whether you are exposed to any dangerous substances at work or at home.

These special tests for certain cancers are recommended for your age and gender:

MEN

Colon Cancer Testing
Testing is recommended, and there are many testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done. Medicare covers testing.

Prostate Cancer Testing
Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about prostate cancer testing. Men who can expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with a health care provider about the uncertainties, risks, and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested. Medicare covers testing.

Lung Cancer Testing
If you have a smoking history, talk to a health care provider about it and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, and risks of screening with a health care provider before testing is done. You also should find out how much the test will cost – it’s not covered by Medicare.

WOMEN

Breast Cancer Testing
Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a health care provider right away.
You should get a mammogram every 2 years, or you can choose to get one every year. Be sure you understand the pros and cons of breast cancer screening.
It’s important to know if you are at higher than average risk for breast cancer. If you are, talk to a health care provider about whether you need to get other tests along with your mammograms.

Cervical Cancer Testing
No testing is needed if you’ve had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years.
No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix if it was done for reasons not related to cervical cancer.
Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis. Testing is covered by Medicare.

Colon Cancer Testing
Testing is recommended, and there are many testing options. Talk with a health care provider about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done. Medicare covers testing.

Lung Cancer Testing
If you have a smoking history, talk to a health care provider about it and whether you should get an annual low-dose CT scan to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer, and have a 30 pack-year smoking history. (A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.) You should discuss the benefits, limitations, and risks of screening with a health care provider before testing is done. You also should find out how much the test will cost – it’s not covered by Medicare.