Cancer screenings enable healthcare providers at MedStar Harbor Hospital to detect cancer in the early stages, when it is most treatable. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screenings, but people at high risk for cancers may need earlier or more frequent screenings. Below is an overview of some familiar screenings, but be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider what screenings you should have based on your family and personal health history.
MedStar Harbor Hospital recognizes the importance of early detection and has programs available for those who may not be able to afford these screenings on their own. Learn more.
- Monthly breast self-exams for all women beginning at age 20
- Breast exam by medical provider every three years for women ages 20 to 39
- Annual mammogram and breast exam by medical provider for women ages 40 and older
- Screening for all women age 18 and older or upon becoming sexually active
- Annual Pap smear; after three normal Pap tests, frequency may change depending upon medical recommendation
- Fecal occult blood test for all adults age 50 and older every year
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
- Double-contrast barium enema every five years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Men age 50 and older—discuss testing recommendations with healthcare provider
- Tests include digital rectal exam and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test
- Skin self-exam once a month for all adults age 20 and older
- Skin exam by healthcare provider every three years until age 39, yearly beginning at age 40
- Annual exam by dentist or healthcare provider for all adults
Most cancers are sporadic, meaning they are dependent on environmental factors such as diet or tobacco usage/exposure and not heredity—less than 5 percent of 1.5 million annual cancer cases (predominantly breast, ovarian, and colorectal cancers) are based on heredity.
Still, MedStar Health provides genetic counseling or testing (a simple blood test to detect the gene) to patients who believe they may be affected by a hereditary factor. Your physician will give you information on
- the risks of developing cancer or developing cancer again (recurrence),
- screening and prevention options
- research studies or clinical trials
- support groups
This knowledge can provide patient options—including close monitoring or surgery to preemptively remove the areas where cancer may develop—and it may lead to prevention for future generations.