Cancer Screenings for Symptoms
Screenings check for cancer—or conditions that may lead to cancer—in people who do not have symptoms. These practical tests may find cancer early when it is more easily and successfully treated. Sometimes, when signs and symptoms appear, cancer may have grown and spread. Therefore, it is essential to remember that if your doctor recommends a cancer-screening test, it does not mean they think you have cancer.
For anyone age 20 or older to have periodic health exams, a cancerrelated checkup should include health counseling and, depending on age, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testicles, ovaries, and bladder.
Lee Health Regional Cancer Center
8931 Colonial Center Dr Fort Myers, FL 33905
Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation Cancer Clinic - Bonita Health Center
3501 Health Center Blvd Estero, FL 34135
What are 8 ways to help limit chances of developing cancer?
Take control of your health, and reduce your cancer risk. You can follow these steps to reduce your cancer risk.
- Stay away from tobacco and e-cigarettes.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get moving with regular physical activity.
- Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink).
- Protect your skin; wear sunscreen and protective clothing.
- Know your health history, family history, and your risk for cancer.
- Have regular checkups and cancer screening tests.
Regular mammograms help find breast cancer early.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. Women should also know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away. Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.)
Cervical cancer screening should begin at age 25. Women younger than 21 who are sexually active should follow their doctor’s guidelines. Women between the ages of 25 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years.
There also is a test called the HPV test, which should not be used in this age group unless needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Cervical cancer screening should start at age 25. People under age 25 should not be tested because cervical cancer is rare in this age group
- . People between the ages of 25 and 65 should get a primary HPV (human papillomavirus) test* done every 5 years. If a primary HPV test is not available, a co-test (an HPV test with a Pap test) every 5 years or a Pap test every 3 years are still good options.
- People over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Those with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 25 years after that
- People whose cervix has been removed by surgery for reasons not related to cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested
- People who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups.
Some individuals – because of their health history (HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc.) – may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Talk to a health care provider about your history.
Colorectal Cancer and Polyps
For people at average risk for colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends starting regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stoolbased test), or with an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). Talk to your health care provider about which tests might be good options for you, and to your insurance provider about your coverage. No matter which test you choose
- If you’re in good health, you should continue regular screening through age 75.
- For people ages 76 through 85, talk with your health care provider about whether continuing to get screened is right for you. When deciding, take into account your own preferences, overall health, and past screening history.
- People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.
- If you choose to be screened with a test other than colonoscopy, any abnormal test result needs to be followed up with a colonoscopy
Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that at the time of menopause, all women should be told about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding or spotting to their doctors. Some women – because of their history – may need to consider having a yearly endometrial biopsy. Please talk with a health care provider about your history.
Screening guidelines are for those at high risk of lung cancer due to smoking. If all of the following apply, screening may be appropriate for you:
- You are between 50 and 80 years of age and (Medicare 50-77 years old)
- You are a currently smoking or have quit within the last 15 years and
- Have at least a 20 pack-year history
There are no recommended tests to check for lung cancer in people who are at average risk. Screening uses a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest. . If you fit the criteria above, you and your doctor should discuss whether you want to start screening. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with a health care provider about whether to be tested for prostate cancer.
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a health care provider about the pros and cons of testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.
If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with a health care provider starting at age 45.
If you decide to be tested, you should get a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.
Testicular cancer is most common in men ages 15-34 and is usually curable. Risk factors include having an undescended testicle, a family history, Klinefelter syndrome, and being Caucasian. There is no standard or routine screening test
- Best to examine testicles during or after a bath or shower when the skin of the scrotum is relaxed
- Hold the penis out of the way and examine each testicle separately
- Hold testicle between thumb and finger with both hands and roll it gently between fingers
Look and feel for any hard lumps or nodules (smooth rounded masses) or any changes in the size, shape, or consistency of each testicle (It’s normal to have slight size differences between each testicle and one to hang lower than the other)
Schedule an Appointment with a Doctor
Screening for cancer is an important first step to detect and help treat cancer early. Talk with your primary care doctor about screening for cancer and review any family history.