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Get screened! It could save your life

Your best weapon against cancer? Early detection. The sooner a cancer is caught, the more effective the treatment. And if it’s detected before it’s had a chance to spread, the chances for a cure are much higher. That’s why the American Cancer Society recommends we follow the screening schedule outlined below. If you’re tempted to skip a screening because you feel fine, consider this: Evidence suggests that cancer can lurk for as many as five years before producing symptoms. (If you have risk factors for cancer, talk to your doctor about a screening schedule that may better meet your needs.)

TestCancer siteGender/ageFrequency
General exam for cancer by a physicianBreast, colon, prostate, skin, thyroid, testicles, uterus, lymph nodes and othersMen and women ages 20 to 39Every 3 years
 Men and women ages 40 and overOnce a year
Breast exam by a physicianBreastWomen ages 20 to 39Every 3 years
 Women ages 40 and overOnce a year
MammogramBreastWomen ages 40 and overOnce a year
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)BreastHigh-risk women ages 30 and overOnce a year
Pap testCervixWomen ages 21 to 29Once a year
 Women ages 30 to 69Every 2 to 3 years after 3 normal annual Pap tests in a row
 Women ages 70 and overOptional, depending on risk factors
Prostate-specific antigen (PSA)ProstateMen ages 50 and overOnce a year
 African-American and high-risk men ages 45 and overOnce a year
Digital rectal exam (DRE)ProstateMen ages 50 and overOnce a year
 African-American and high-risk men ages 45 and overOnce a year
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)Colon/rectumMen and women over 50Once a year
SigmoidoscopyColon/rectumMen and women over 50Every 5 years
Double contrast barium enemaColon/rectumMen and women over 50Every 5 years
ColonoscopyColon/rectumMen and women over 50Every 10 years
Source: American Cancer Society