American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends these screening guidelines for most adults.
- Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for
as long as a woman is in good health
- Clinical breast exam (breast exam by an physician or nurse practitioner)
about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for
women 40 and over
- Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any
breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam
(BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency,
or certain other factors – should be screened with MRI in addition
to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small:
less than 2% of all the women in the US.) Talk with your doctor about
your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.
With four locations throughout the South Bay, Torrance Memorial's Breast
Diagnostic Centers make expert breast screening easy and convenient.
Colorectal Cancer and Polyps
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these testing
Tests that find polyps and cancer
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*, or
- Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*, or
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that primarily find cancer
- Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)*,**, or
- Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
* 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.
The tests that are designed to find both early cancer and polyps are preferred
if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have one of
these more invasive tests. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.
Some people should be screened using a different schedule because of their
personal history or family history. Talk with your doctor about your history
and what colorectal cancer screening schedule is best for you.
Screening for cancer of the colon can safely be perfomed on an outpatient
basis at Torrance Memorial Medical Center.
- Cervical cancer screening (testing) should begin at age 21. Women under
age 21 should not be tested.
- Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Now
there is also a test called the HPV test. HPV testing should not be used
in this age group unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV
test (called "co-testing") every 5 years. This is the preferred
approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal
results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped,
it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical
pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that
diagnosis, even if testing continues past age 65.
- A woman who has had her uterus removed (and also her cervix) for reasons
not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer
or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
- A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening
recommendations for her age group.
Some women – because of their health history – may need to
have a different screening schedule for cervical cancer.
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 bleeding or spotting to their doctors.
Some women – because of their history – may need to consider
having a yearly endometrial biopsy. Please talk with your doctor about
The American Cancer Society does not recommend tests to screen for lung
cancer in people who are at average risk of this disease. However, the
ACS does have screening guidelines for individuals who are at high risk
of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. If you meet all of the following
criteria then you might be a candidate for screening:
- 55 to 74 years of age
- In fairly good health
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking
or have quit smoking within the last 15 years
Torrance Memorial Medical Center offers low-dose CT screening for those
at increased risk for lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision
with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer. Research
has not yet proven that the potential benefits of testing outweigh the
harms of testing and treatment. The American Cancer Society believes that
men should not be tested without learning about what we know and don't
know about the risks and possible benefits of testing and treatment.
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a doctor about the pros and cons
of testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.
If they are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate
cancer before age 65, men should have this talk with a doctor starting
at age 45. If men decide to be tested, they should have the PSA blood
test with or without a rectal exam. How often they are tested will depend
on their PSA level.
For people aged 20 or older having periodic health exams, a cancer-related
check-up should include health counseling and, depending on a person's
age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph
nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.
Take control of your health, and reduce your cancer risk.
- Stay away from tobacco.
- Stay at a healthy weight.
- Get moving with regular physical activity.
- Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all).
- Protect your skin.
- Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
- Have regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.