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Reduce Your Cancer Risk with Age-Appropriate Screening

Multigenerational family

December 18, 2020

Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States, yet up to 1/3 of premature deaths from cancer could possibly be avoided through screening.

You may be able to reduce your risk of developing certain forms of cancer with age-appropriate screenings. Specialists at The University of Kansas Cancer Center list the top screening recommendations for you to consider as you work with your healthcare provider.

Learn your cancer risks and get screened

By knowing and managing your risk factors, you can take steps to avoid receiving a cancer diagnosis.

  • Screening may detect cancer in its earlier stages, when it’s more easily treated.
  • If you know you are at high risk for developing certain cancers, you may be able to take preventive measures such as adopting a healthier lifestyle, frequent screenings and surveillance strategies.
  • If you’re at high risk, your physician may recommend genetic testing to identify specific inherited gene mutations that are known to increase the risk of developing certain cancers.

The following are recommended age-appropriate cancer screenings and tests. Talk to your physician about what is right for you.

Read about screening recommendations for:

Cancer screenings by age for women

Breast cancer screening

Age 18-39

  • Clinical breast exam every 3 years 
  • Mammogram if at high risk, ask your healthcare provider

Age 40-64

Clinical breast exam and mammogram annually at age 40
Age 65+

Clinical breast exam and mammogram annually or as prescribed

Cervical cancer screening

Age 21

  • Screening with Pap test

Ages 21-30

  • Pap every 3 years

Age 30+

  • Pap every 3 years or combined Pap/HPV test every 5 years 
  • HPV vaccination (up to age 45) 

Age 65+

  • Pap testing stops (for those with a history of normal Pap tests)

Cancer screenings by age for men

Testicular cancer screening

Ages 18-39

  • Clinical testicular exam as part of a routine cancer-related checkup
  • Monthly testicular self-exam, checking for lumps or tenderness

Prostate cancer screening

Age 40+

PSA (prostate-specific antigen) test for:

  • Men over 40 with a family history of prostate cancer
  • African-American men over 40

Ages 55-70

  • PSA test

Cancer screenings by age for men and women

Colorectal cancer screening

Age 45+

Colorectal screening starting at age 45 with 1 of 6 different tests:

  • Fecal immunochemical test, or FIT, yearly
  • Fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, yearly
  • Stool DNA test, every 3 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years starting at age 50 or as recommended
  • CT colonography, or virtual colonoscopy, every 5 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years

Lung cancer screening


Age 55+

To qualify, you must meet the high-risk criteria:

  • 55-77 years old
  • Currently a smoker or have quit within the past 15 years
  • Have smoked at least a pack of cigarettes a day for 30 years

Skin cancer screening

Ages 20-40

  • Skin examination every 3 years as part of routine cancer-related checkup

Ages 40+

  • Skin examination annually as part of routine cancer-related checkup

Start your path today.

Your journey to health starts here. Call 913-588-1227 or request an appointment at The University of Kansas Cancer Center.

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