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What are cancer screening types and ages to start?

Cancer screening types

Regular tests for cervical and breast cancers can help you beat any potential threats before they grow. This guide will help you navigate the types of cancer screenings and when to start getting tested.

Staying on top of your health

There are many ways to stay vigilant about your health. From eating healthy, well-balanced meals to making sure you get a full night’s sleep or exercising when you can, taking care of your body means staying in tune with what you need.

It also involves listening to what your body might be trying to tell you. Take care of your health by going to the doctor regularly too for check-ups and screenings to ensure your body is in tip-top shape without any anomalies or potential problems.

Breast cancer

Breast cancer is the second most-common cancer affecting women, with 250,000 women being impacted by it each year. Regular breast cancer screenings should begin at 40 and continue through end-of-life, however it is good practice to get into the habit of regularly performing at-home breast exams on yourself starting earlier.

Breast cancer screenings are the following:

  • Mammography: An X-ray of the breast that checks for abnormalities.
  • MRI: An in-depth look at the breast for high-risk populations or those already diagnosed.
  • Clinical Breast Exam: Performed by yourself or a doctor to do a surface-level check for lumps or abnormalities in the breasts.

Chart on ages to get cancer screening tests

This handy chart shows the recommended ages for getting tested:

Cancer screening by age
Image via Siege Media

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer used to be the leading cause of cancer death for American women, but that is no longer the case due to screenings that can identify it early enough for treatment. Screenings for cervical cancer should begin at 21 and continue until 65, or until you’ve undergone a total hysterectomy.

Cervical cancer screenings are the following:

  • Pap Smear: The Papanicolaou test is a routine exam during a gynecologist appointment. It collects cells from the cervix to check for abnormalities.
  • HPV Test: Similar to the Pap test, an HPV test also collects cells from the cervix to check for the human papillomavirus, which can lead to cervical cancer.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third most-diagnosed cancer type for both men and women. Tests for this type of cancer should begin at 45. Then, continue until you are either 75 or 85, depending on your risk factors and conversations with your primary care physician.

Colorectal cancer screenings are the following:

  • Visual Tests: Visual tests like a colonoscopy can help check for abnormalities through a thin tube inserted into the rectum. A virtual colonoscopy can also do this using X-ray technology.
  • Stool Tests: Stool tests check for abnormalities in collected samples of stool after lab testing.

On types of cancer screenings

There aren’t sufficient testing systems in place for other types of cancers. So, usually people don’t get routine screenings for them. However, if you are experiencing pain or discomfort in an extreme and uncommon way, it might be worth talking to your doctor about next steps.

Screening for cancer is just one way that you can make sure your body remains physically fit. It can also provide peace of mind.

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