Comprehensive Cancer Centers recommends reviewing cancer screening guidelines to grasp simple precautions that may save lives.

Fall provides a great time to review guidelines and start making appointments for screenings. This time of focus can include reminding friends and family and, don’t forget, younger people who may not think they’re at risk for cancer.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers recommends everyone take a few minutes to learn and review cancer screening guidelines that may save your life and/or the ones around you. Recovery can be made easier through early diagnoses that can lead to simpler treatments, should cancer be diagnosed early.

Screenings are a great place to start managing personal health, but the physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers also stress that guidelines aren’t exact and one size fits all. Health is highly personal with factors including personal history, family history, and other variables which can be determined through testing such as Cancer Genetic Counseling. To know your personal health picture, start with a visit with your primary care physician who can go over each and every detail of your individual path.

To get such a plan in place, review general guidelines, such as the ones below, and work through each screening with your doctor.

Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines
The following are age-specific recommendations for testing, accompanied by pertinent notes:

  • Age 21: Testing may be recommended if you have higher than average risk of colon cancer.
  • Age 45-75: People at average risk (are in good health and with a life expectancy of more than 10 years) should continue regular colorectal cancer screenings.
  • Age 76-85: The decision to be screened should be based on patient preference, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.
  • Age 86 and over: Should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.

For those with high risk factors for colon cancer, people who are at an increased or higher risk for colorectal cancer might need to start screening before the age of 45, be screened more often, and/or get specific tests. Screening guidelines include:

  • Personal history or a strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps.
  • Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also known as hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC).
  • A personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to retreat a prior cancer.

Stool-Based Tests for Colon Cancer Recommendations:

  • Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year.
  • Highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year.
  • Multi-targeted stool DNA test (mt-sDNA) every three years.

Visual (structural) Exams of the Colon & Rectum Recommendations:

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years for average risk; more frequent based on personal and family history or if pathology identified.
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years; more frequently if pathology identified.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every five years; more frequently if pathology identified.
  • What’s New? The age recommendation for screening has changed from 50 to 45, effective April 2021.

Pancreatic Cancer Screening Recommendations
Given the challenges in treating many pancreatic cancer cases, the Comprehensive team urges everyone to be mindful and follow these guidelines for screenings:

High Risk Patients: Get screenings starting at age 50 (or 10 years prior to the earliest diagnosis in the family). Those who are considered high risk should have an MRI/MRCP and/or endoscopic ultrasound annually.

Guidelines include accounting for:

  • Certain gene mutations such as ATM, BRCA1, BRCA2, Lynch Syndrome, and others.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer in two or more first-degree relatives.
  • Family history of pancreatic cancer in three or more first and/or second-degree relatives.

Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
To ensure the best chances of early detection for lung cancer, Comprehensive recommends following these guidelines are:

Age 50 to 80: Annual lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) if your patients meet the following conditions:

  • Fairly good health.
  • A current or former smoker (within the past 15 years).
  • Have at least a 20 pack-year smoking history.

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
To ensure greater opportunities for early breast cancer detection, Comprehensive recommends following these guidelines:

  • Age 40 to 74: Start screening with mammogram annually.
  • Age 75 and over: Should continue with mammograms if their overall health is good, and they have a life expectancy of 10 or more years.

High Risk: Women who are high risk for breast cancer should get a breast MRI and a mammogram annually, typically starting 10 years prior to the earliest breast cancer diagnosis in the family. This includes:

  • Have a lifetime risk of breast cancer of about 20% or greater, according to risk assessment tools that are based mainly on family history.
  • Have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation (based on having had genetic testing) or other genetic predisposition for breast cancer.
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or child) with BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, and have not had genetic testing themselves.
  • Had radiation therapy to the chest when they were between the ages of 10 and 30 years.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends against MRI screening for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.

Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
Comprehensive recommends women follow these screening guidelines to ensure early detection of cervical cancer

  • Age 21 to 24: No screening needed.
  • Age 25 to 65: Women should have an HPV test every five years. If HPV testing is not available, women can get screened with an HPV/PAP cotest every five years, or a PAP test every three years.
  • Age 65 and older: No screening needed if a series of prior tests were normal.

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines
Comprehensive recommends that men follow the guidelines below for prostate cancer screenings:

  • Age 40 to 45: No screening.
  • Age 45 to 49: Men should have a baseline PSA test.
  • Age 50 to 69: Consider screening with a PSA for average risk patients. The decision to screen with PSA should be based on patient preference, family history and current health.
  • Age 70: Men aged 70-plus or any man with less than 10 to 15 years life expectancy should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.
  • High Risk: Consider screening with PSA in high-risk populations and African Americans with a positive family history.

There are many other screenings that can be done, including self-screenings. As noted, this list will get you started on a path set by your personal physician. If you don’t have a doctor, step one is finding one. You can work with your health insurance provider to pinpoint options. You can also learn more about guidelines through information provided by the American Cancer Society.

Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers provide a variety of options for cancer care including chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted treatments, radiation therapy, as well as clinical research for the treatment of cancer. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.

The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.