Which Cancers Should We Screen For?

The American College of Physicians has made the following recommendations on screening for five common cancers.

  • Breast: For women aged 40-49 years, mammography screening every 2 years should be offered if a woman requests it after a discussion of the potential benefits and harms. For women aged 50-74 years who are in good health, mammography should be encouraged every 2 years.
  • Cervical: For women aged 21-29 years, Pap smears are recommended every 3 years. For those aged 30-65, Pap smears with HPV testing can be done every 5 years (instead of Pap smears alone).
  • Colorectal: For patients aged 50-75 years, one of the following strategies should be encouraged: high-sensitivity stool blood testing (FOBT) or stool immunofluorescence testing (FIT) annually; sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; combined high-sensitivity FOBT or FIT every 3 years plus sigmoidoscopy every 5 years; or optical colonoscopy every 10 years.
  • Ovarian: Screening isn’t recommended.
  • Prostate: For men aged 50-69 with a life expectancy of at least a decade, discuss screening’s benefits and risks. If patients prefer screening, order prostate-specific antigen testing no more than once every 2-4 years.

 

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