What cancer screenings should I get this year?

Women's Health
Men's Health
doctor showing man lung screening results

First it was the pandemic, then the holidays. You may have had all kinds of reasons for not scheduling your cancer screenings. But it's a new year—and time to get back on track with lifelong preventive health and wellness.

Checking for cancer or conditions that may become cancer is an important health step everyone can take. Cancer screening can help doctors find and treat several types of cancer early. Early detection is important because when abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, there's a better chance it can be treated successfully.

In case you're wondering: What cancer screenings should I get this year? Here's a good place to start.

Colorectal screening for colon cancer

Regular colorectal screening for colon cancer can often find cancer early when it's most likely to be curable. For many people, colorectal screening can prevent colorectal cancer altogether. That's because some colon polyps, or growths, can be found and removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include certain types of diets, physical inactivity, obesity, smoking and heavy alcohol use.

Regular screening, beginning at age 45, is the key to preventing colorectal cancer.

Main Line Health recommends colorectal screening starting at age 45 years and continuing until age 75 years. People at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age and may need to be tested more frequently.

There are a few methods of colorectal screening. One common test used to screen for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about what screenings you should receive and when you should receive them. The few minutes you take to be screened could save your life.

To discuss colorectal cancer screening options or to schedule an appointment with a Main Line Health colorectal or gastroenterology specialist, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.

Gynecological screening for cervical and ovarian cancer

Thanks to regular screening tests, cervical cancer is the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent. HPV and Pap tests, which can be performed by your OB/GYN at your annual checkup, are key in helping prevent and detect pre-cancers, cell changes that have the potential to develop into cervical cancer if not treated.

Gynecologists at Main Line Health see young women from adolescence through the childbearing years, into perimenopause and post-menopause, ensuring you receive the recommended cancer screenings and other health tests based on your health condition and family history.

Find out more about the importance of HPV screening and additional testing for HIV and STDs.

To schedule an appointment with a gynecologic specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.

Lung screening for lung cancer

In its State of Lung Cancer 2021 report, the American Lung Association reported that close to 236,000 people would be diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021. Lung cancer remains the number one cancer killer of people of all genders. The disease will take more lives this year than colon, breast, pancreatic and prostate cancers combined.

The national average of people alive five years after a lung cancer diagnosis is 23.7%. – American Lung Association

The importance of early detection cannot be overstated. A low-dose CT scan is one of the best options available to patients with a specific set of risk factors for lung cancer. Getting a CT scan can reduce lung cancer deaths by up to 20 percent in high-risk patients.

Once you have your prescription for lung cancer screening, call 484.565.LUNG (484.565.5864) to speak to a lung health navigator who will ask you additional questions and schedule a screening for you.

Mammogram screening for breast cancer

When was the last time you had a mammogram? (If you're not sure, log into your MyChart patient portal to review past appointments.)

The recommendation may be different if you have a family history of cancer. Be sure to talk to your primary care doctor or gynecologist about when you should begin screenings.

For women ages 40 or older, Main Line Health recommends you get a mammogram every year.

Why should I get a breast cancer screening this year?

Getting a breast cancer screening every year is still the best way to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages. Our doctors emphasize why the best time to get a mammogram is always now.

Main Line Health offers 3D mammography, the most advanced technology for breast cancer screening, which provides a clearer picture and allows physicians to better pinpoint the shape, size and location of breast abnormalities.

Schedule a mammography appointment online or call 484.580.1800.

Prostate screening for prostate cancer

Prostate cancer can often be found early by testing the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in a man's blood. Another way to find prostate cancer early is the digital rectal exam (DRE).

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that men have a chance to make an informed decision with their health care provider about whether to be screened for prostate cancer. The decision should be made after getting information about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of prostate cancer screening.

The discussion about prostate screening for prostate cancer should take place at:

  • Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
  • Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
  • Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).

Should you be screened for prostate cancer? Talk to your primary care doctor about screening recommendations.

Main Line Health Cancer Care provides compassionate care through all stages of cancer treatment, from diagnosis through survivorship, for patients throughout the Philadelphia region and beyond. To schedule an appointment with a cancer specialist at Main Line Health, 1.866.CALL.MLH (225.5654).