Recommended Cancer Screening Tests

Posted on March 22, 2017


Cancer is one of the most prevalent (and deadly) diseases that continues to plague people today. According to the American Cancer Society, there will be more than 1.6 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in 2017, and over 600,000 people will likely die from the disease.

Cancer Screening Tests

The best way to combat cancer is through early diagnosis, which is why there are several cancer screening tests. Here are some screening tests that are done, along with the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for when people should be screened.

Men Ages 20 to 49

There aren’t any standard screenings done for young and middle-aged men. If a man is at an elevated risk of getting colon or prostate cancer, a doctor may recommend testing. For men who aren’t especially likely to develop these cancers, however, there aren’t any recommended cancer screenings between ages 20 and 49.

Women Ages 20 to 39

The American Cancer Society recommends that women begin having Pap smears done at age 21. Between ages 21 and 29, women ought to have a Pap smear every three years, and an HPV test is only necessary if a Pap smear is abnormal. Between ages 30 and 39, women should either continue having a Pap smear every three years, or get a Pap smear and HPV test every five years. These recommendations are the same regardless of whether women have been vaccinated against HPV.

If women notice changes in their breasts or are at an increased risk for colon cancer, a doctor may also recommend other tests.

Men Age 50 and Older

Most men should begin getting screened for colon cancer when they turn 50, and they may also want to explore prostate cancer screening options. Lung cancer testing may be recommended for men 55 and older who have smoked.

Women Ages 40 to 49

As women enter their 40s, the recommendations for cervical cancer and colon cancer screenings remain unchanged. They should begin getting annual mammograms at age 45, though, and some women may want to have mammograms starting at age 40.

Women Age 50 and Older

Several screening recommendations change as women approach their senior years:

  • Pap smears and HPV tests are recommended at the same intervals for women under 65, unless they’ve had a hysterectomy
  • Women no longer need cervical cancer screenings once they’re 65 if the past 10 years of tests have been normal
  • Mammograms are recommended at one-year intervals until women turn 55, when they may opt to reduce the frequency to bi-annually
  • Colon cancer screening is recommended beginning at age 50
  • Women who have smoked may want to be screened for lung cancer beginning at age 50


Talk with Your Doctor

The above are only general recommendations. For individual advice, talk with your doctor about what cancer screenings are appropriate for you.

If you live on Long Island and need a doctor to talk with, get in touch with us at PCMB. In addition to well-known orthopedic doctors and osteoporosis doctors, we also have a world-class staff of physicians who assist patients with cancer screenings. One of them would be happy to help make sure you get the screenings you should have. Free cancer screenings through our Cancer Service Program of Suffolk County are available for uninsured residents of Suffolk County who meet eligibility requirements.