Cancer Screening Guidelines

Cancer Related General Check-up

Men and women 20-40 should have a general cancer check-up every three years. Men and women 40+ should have a general cancer check-up annually. Check-up may include examination for cancers of thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries.

Colorectal cancer and polyps

Men and women 50+ should follow one of these exam schedules:

Tests that find polyps and cancer

  • Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*, or
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
  • CT colonography (virtual colonscopy) every 5 years*

Tests that primarily find cancer

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)**, or
  • Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year**, or
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain**

*if the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done.
**The multiple stool take-home test should be used. One test done by the doctor in the office is not adequate for testing. A colonoscopy should be done if the test is positive.

Skin Cancer

Adult men and women should examine skin regularly and see a physician to evaluate new growths or changes in existing growths.

Breast Cancer

Women 40+ should have an annual mammogram, annual clinical breast exam performed by a physician, and monthly breast self-exam. Women 20-39 should have a clinical breast exam every 3 years and monthly breast self-exam.

Family history, genetic tendency, or certain other factors may be cause for an MRI in addition to mammograms. The number of women who call into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the U.S. Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.

Early detection remains a woman's best defense in the battle against breast cancer. Like all cancers, breast cancer develops when abnormal cells in the body change and grow out of control. When problematic breast tissue cells are diagnosed early, the prognosis for cure is extremely high. National organizations that publish guidelines about breast cancer screening have different recommendations depending on age and risk factors, so it is important for you to discuss the best screening option with your doctor. Read about the latest recommendations here »

Cervix and Uterus Cancers

Women 3 years after onset of vaginal intercourse, but not later than age 21, should have an annual screening with regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid-based Pap test.

Women age 30, who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years. Women older than 30 may also get screened every 3 years with either the conventional or liquid-based Pap test, plus the human papilloma virus (HPV) test.

Women 70 years of age or older who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having Pap tests.

Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having Pap tests, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue to have Pap tests.

Endometrial (uterine) cancer

At the time of menopause, all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors.

Prostate Cancer

Men 50+ should have PSA blood test and digital rectal exam annually. Men with strong family history of prostate cancer or African-American men should begin at age 45.

North Star Lodge Cancer Treatment Center recommends screening guidelines of the American Cancer Society.

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