American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer
Please click on the tabs below to view the recommended screenings for men and women suggested by The American Cancer Society.
Colorectal Cancer and Polyps
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these testing schedules:
- Tests that Find Polyps and Cancer
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*, or
- Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*, or
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
- Tests that Primarily Find Cancer
- Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)**, or
- Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year**, or
- Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain**
* If the test is positive, a colonoscopy should be done.
** The multiple stool take-home test should be used. One test done by the doctor in the office is not adequate for testing. A colonoscopy should be done if the test is positive.
The tests that are designed to find both early cancer and polyps are preferred if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have one of these more invasive tests. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.
The American Cancer Society recommends that some people be screened using a different schedule because of their personal history or family history. Talk with your doctor about your history and what colorectal cancer screening schedule is best for you.
Risk Factor for Colorectal Cancer
- Age - More than 9 out of 10 people diagnosed with colorectal cancer are older than 50
- Personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease - (Inflammatory bowel disease is different from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which does not increase your risk for colorectal cancer)
- Family history of colorectal cancer
- Inherited syndromes
- Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Turcot syndrome
- Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- MUTYH-associated polyposis
- Racial and ethnic background - African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have some of the highest colorectal cancer risks of any ethnic group in the world
- Certain types of diets - A diet that is high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (hot dogs and some luncheon meats); cooking meats at very high temperatures (frying, broiling, or grilling). Diets high in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains have been linked with a decreased risk of colorectal cancer, but fiber supplements do not seem to help
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy alcohol use
- Type 2 diabetes
Screening with low-dose spiral CT scans has been shown to decrease the risk of dying from lung cancer in heavy smokers.
HealthONE offers lung cancer screenings. Call (720) 282-8888 to see if you're eligible for a lung cancer screening.
High Risk for Lung Cancer
The US Preventative Services Task Force recommends annual screening if you are between the ages of 55 and 80 and have smoked at least 30 pack-years, even if you have quit during the past fifteen years. (Pack-years are calculated by multiplying the number of packs smoked per day by the number of years a person has smoked.)
Those with current lung cancer symptoms are not eligible.
Lung Cancer Risk Factors
- Tobacco smoke - Smoking is by far the leading risk factor for lung cancer
- Secondhand smoke
- Radon - radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer, and is the leading cause among non-smokers
- Other cancer-causing agents in the workplace - Other carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) found in some workplaces that can increase lung cancer risk include:
- Radioactive ores such as uranium
- Inhaled chemicals or minerals such as arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, silica, vinyl chloride, nickel compounds, chromium compounds, coal products, mustard gas, and chloromethyl ethers
- Diesel exhaust
- Radiation therapy to the lungs
- Arsenic in drinking water may increase the risk of lung cancer, particularly in smokers
- Personal or family history of lung cancer
- Certain dietary supplements- Smokers who took beta carotene supplements actually had an increased risk of lung cancer. The results of these studies suggest that smokers should avoid taking beta carotene supplements
- Air pollution
Starting at age 50, talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of testing so you can decide if testing is the right choice 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 starting at age 45. If you decide to be tested, you should have the PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you are tested will depend on your PSA level.
Prostate Cancer Risk Factors
- Age - Almost 2 out of 3 prostate cancers are found in men over the age of 65
- Race/ethnicity - Prostate cancer occurs more often in African-American men than in men of other races
- Nationality - Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia, and on Caribbean islands. It is less common in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America
- Family history - Prostate cancer seems to run in some families, which suggests that in some cases there may be an inherited or genetic factor
- Genes - Scientists have found several inherited gene changes that seem to raise prostate cancer risk, but they probably account for only a small number of cases overall. Genetic testing for most of these gene changes is not yet available
- Diet - Men who eat a lot of red meat or high-fat dairy products appear to have a slightly higher chance of getting prostate cancer. These men also tend to eat fewer fruits and vegetables. Doctors are not sure which of these factors is responsible for raising the risk
- Obesity - Most studies have not found that being obese (very overweight) is linked with a higher risk of getting prostate cancer overall
- Smoking - Most studies have not found a link between smoking and the risk of developing prostate cancer. Some recent research has linked smoking to a possible small increase in the risk of death from prostate cancer, but this is a new finding that will need to be confirmed by other studies
- Inflammation of the prostate
- Sexually transmitted infections
The American Cancer Society recommends that some women -- because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors -- be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is small: less than 2% of all the women in the US.) Talk with your doctor about your history and whether you should have additional tests at an earlier age.
- Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health
- Clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over
- Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
- Age – Getting older raises the risk of breast cancer.
- Family history – Having a mother, sister, or daughter who had breast cancer raises the risk.
- Breast biopsy history – Having an abnormal finding on a past breast biopsy raises the risk of breast cancer.
- Menstrual history – Having your first period at an early age (before age 12) raises the risk. Going through menopause late (after age 55) raises the risk.
- Reproductive history – Having your first child later in life raises the risk of breast cancer. Never having children also raises the risk.
- Menopause hormone therapy – Taking hormones for menopause (estrogen alone or estrogen plus progestin) raises the risk.
- Obesity – Being obese (very overweight) raises the risk of breast cancer.
- Alcohol use – Having more than one or two drinks a day raises the risk.
- Other risk factors – It is rare, but some women are born with a gene that puts them at high risk for breast cancer. Having radiation treatment at a young age also raises the risk.
- All women should begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after they begin having vaginal intercourse, but no later than 21 years old. Screening should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid-based Pap test.
- Women >30 who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years. Women older than 30 may also get screened every 3 years with either the conventional or liquid-based Pap test, plus the human papilloma virus (HPV) test.
- Women >70 years who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having Pap tests.
- Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having Pap tests, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue to have Pap tests.
Some women - because of their history - may need to have a different screening schedule for cervical cancer.
Cervical Cancer Risk Factors
- Human papilloma virus infection
- Chlamydia infection
- Diet - Women with diets low in fruits and vegetables may be at increased risk for cervical cancer. Also overweight women are more likely to develop adenocarcinoma of the cervix
- Oral contraceptives (birth control pills)
- Intrauterine device use
- Multiple full-term pregnancies
- Young age at the first full-term pregnancy
- Diethylstilbestrol (DES)
- Family history of cervical cancer
Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that at the time of menopause, all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors.
Some women - because of their history - may need to consider having a yearly endometrial biopsy. Please talk with your doctor about your history.
Uterine Cancer Risk Factors
- Hormone levels
- Estrogen therapy
- Birth control pills
- Total number of menstrual cycles - Starting menstrual periods (menarche) before age 12 and/or going through menopause later in life raises the risk
- Pregnancy - Women who have never been pregnant have a higher risk, especially if they were also infertile (unable to become pregnant)
- Ovarian tumors
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome
- Use of an intrauterine device
- Age - The risk of endometrial cancer increases as a woman gets older
- Diet and exercise - A high-fat diet can increase the risk of several cancers, including endometrial cancer
- Family history
- Breast or ovarian cancer
- Prior pelvic radiation therapy
- Endometrial hyperplasia