Cancer Screenings

Catch Cancer Early

Cancer screening is an important step to detecting cancer in its earliest stages – when it may be easier to treat or cure.

Screening often can catch cancer before you have noticeable symptoms. At Sanford Health, we provide the latest in imaging technology and screening methods to ensure precise and detailed results.

Below are screening guidelines for some of the most common cancers. It’s important to talk with your doctor at every visit for what screening and timing is best for you based on your family history, genetics and other risk factors. You also can learn strategies to help prevent cancer. 

Learn more about Cancer Care


Should I Get Screened for Cancer?

Certain types of cancers are most treatable in their early stages. It is important to get screened for these cancers early, even before you feel symptoms. By catching cancer when it is most treatable, you’ll increase your chances of survival.

Below are the guidelines for specific cancers. Talk to your doctor to know how your family’s history affects these recommendations.

Other cancer screenings are not shown to increase survivorship statistics. You do not need to get preventive screenings for ovarian, pancreatic, testicular or thyroid cancer.

Find the latest cancer screening news and stories on Sanford Health News.


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Cancer Screening Guidelines

Breast Cancer Screening

There’s a lot you can do to be proactive about your breast health, including completing regular screenings and annual exams. Your doctor will provide recommendations for you based on your personal and family history.


For many patients, this involves:


  • Monthly breast self-exams starting in your 20s
  • Clinical breast exams at routine visits starting in your 20s
  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40

To learn more about breast health, visit the Edith Sanford Breast Center website.

Schedule your mammogram today.

Sanford is at the forefront of revising the breast screening guidelines. Join the WISDOM Study to help end the breast screening confusion.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer is preventable. In addition to screening, HPV vaccination is also encouraged for most patients. There’s nothing right now that can prevent ovarian cancer, but women who make some lifestyle choices can reduce their risk.


  • Screening recommendations depend on your age
  • Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years. HPV testing is not advised
  • Women between ages 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test every five years or a Pap test alone every three years
  • Women of all ages should have annual gynecologic exams with pelvic exams for preventive care

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Thanks to colorectal cancer screening, polyps can be found and removed before they turn into cancer. Based on your personal and family history, your doctor will identify the screening, age to start screening and how often is best for you.


The most-used screening is a colonoscopy. This is recommended for:


  • Men and women starting at age 45, or younger if you’re at higher risk
  • Every 10 years after normal results, or sooner if you’re at higher risk

Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer screening involves a low-dose CT scan of the lungs. It is recommended for men and women ages 55-77 who


  • Currently smoke
  • Quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Smoked heavily, defined as a 30-pack year

Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate or PSA screening guidelines depend on your risk. Men can start screening at 50 years old or even 45. Tests include:


  • PSA blood test, a test looking for abnormal levels of prostate-specific antigen in the blood
  • Digital rectal exam, which takes a few seconds for the doctor to feel for abnormal areas in the prostate

Skin Cancer Screening

When this begins depends on your personal and family risk factors. We recommend you get familiar with your normal pattern of freckles, moles and blemishes with:


  • Monthly skin self-exams
  • Yearly visual skin exams by your primary care provider or dermatologist

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