Cancer Screenings

Cancer Screenings at Every Age

Do you know which cancer screenings you should have based on your stage in life? During an annual wellness visit, your primary care provider can help with referrals and plan a screenings schedule. Based on your personal medical history, family history, lifestyle, and environmental factors, you may be at increased risk for certain cancers. Learn more about which screenings are recommended at every age:

Ages 21-29

Starting at age 25, women should have a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years. HPV now causes most cases of oral, head, and neck cancer in the U.S. Women in their twenties should have a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Breast self-awareness (including self-exams) is encouraged – women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel, and report any changes to a health care provider right away.

While in your twenties, a physician may also refer you for periodic checkups and exams for cancer of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, colon, ovaries, or testes. This will be based on your family health history.

Ages 30-39

Your thirties are a good time to establish lifestyle patterns that can keep you healthy and help prevent cancer. This includes a nutritious diet, a regular exercise routine, and quitting smoking or tobacco.

Did you wear sunscreen and practice regular UV protection in your younger years? If not, it’s time for a skin cancer screening. This also applies if you have fair skin, a strong family history of skin cancer, and/or many or atypical moles.

Additionally, a Pap test is recommended every three years, a clinical breast exam every one to three years (along with regular breast self-exams), and an HPV test is recommended every five years (for males and females). Your physician will continue to advise about any necessary screenings for other cancers.

Ages 40-49

People at average risk for colorectal cancer should start testing at age 45. If you’re younger than 45, find out if you are at higher-than-average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If not, then testing is not needed early. Talk with your health care provider about how often testing should be done.

Men in their forties should have a conversation with a physician about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. Certain people have higher risk factors, such as African Americans or those with a family history, and may want to start an earlier screening routine.

Women will be referred for a mammogram starting at 40, unless they have determined with their doctor that earlier screening is necessary. Continue to have a clinical breast exam and pap test on the same schedule as in your thirties.

Both men and women should still have an HPV test every five years. Ask your physician about any other relevant cancer-related checkups and/or lifestyle counseling.

Ages 50-64

During this stage of life, you should plan on having a regular colonoscopy every ten years. Your routine of HPV screening, pap tests, and breast health screenings should be maintained.

Men should determine a schedule for prostate cancer screening with their physician.

Depending on your health and results of your annual exam, a provider may refer you for periodic cancer-related checkups. This could include screenings for oral, head, and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, or testicular cancer.

For current smokers and those with a heavy smoking history, a Lung CT screening is recommended from ages 55 to 75.

Age 65 and Older

For women who have had regular screening with no history of abnormal pap tests, you may stop being tested for cervical cancer after age 65. A mammogram and clinical breast exam every year with breast self-awareness is encouraged. Men should plan for prostate exams on advice of their doctor.

A colon cancer screening should occur every ten years, as well as the Lung CT screening for smokers and those with a smoking history.

There is no specific age at which cancer screening stops. People aged 70 and older should discuss with their doctor and make a decision based on overall health and previous screening history.

To schedule your annual screenings, contact your physician. If you don’t have one, find a provider near you at


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