Early cancer detection is crucial in prevention..

It is especially crucial for those with certain risk factors, such as a history of cigarette smoking, family history of cancer, or exposure to environmental toxins to get regular check-ups.  Early cancer detection will drastically reduce your chance of dying from cancer.  Here are some recommendations.

General A cancer-related check-up every three years for those aged 20-40 and every year for those 40 and older.  This exam should include health counseling and depending on person’s age and gender, exams for cancers of thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-cancerous diseases.
Breast cancer It is pertinent for women to know how their breasts normally look and feel and to promptly report to their health care provider if they notice anything suspicious.

Monthly breast self-exams for all women after age 20.

Clinical breast exam (CBE) every three years for women in their 20s and 30s.

Annual mammogram and CBE for women 40 and older.

Colorectal cancer Once they turn 50, men and women should follow one of the exam schedules below:

-Yearly fecal occult blood test and flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years

-Colonoscopy every 10 years

-Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years

-CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years

A digital rectal exam should be done at same time as a sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, or double-contrast barium enema.  Those who have a family history of colon cancer should talk to their doctor about more frequent testing.

Cervical cancer All women who are sexually active or over 18 should have an annual Pap test, or every 2 years with the newer liquid based Pap test.

Beginning at age 30, women with 3 consecutive Pap tests with normal results may get screened every 2 to 3 years.

Endometrial (uterine cancer) With the onset of menopause, all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer and report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to doctors.  Women with a family history of endometrial cancer should consider an endometrial biopsy when menopause begins.
Prostate cancer Starting at age 50, discuss with your doctor if testing is the right for you.  If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with your doctor at age 45.  If you decide to be tested, have the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test with or without a rectal exam.  Your PSA level will determine how often you are tested.

Source: adapted from information from the American Cancer Society, Inc.