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?

Everyone should get screened. Cancers are most treatable in their early stages. It is important to get screened for cancer 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 that have a recommended screening. Talk to your doctor to know how your family and personal history affect these recommendations.

Other types of cancers do not have a set screening recommendation or test. It is important to talk with your primary care doctor about any changes or symptoms in your health. They can determine special or additional testing that may be needed.

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

Learn more about cervical cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer screening helps find polyps, or abnormal tissue growths, inside your colon so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening options include:

  • A colonoscopy, which is a procedure where a physician uses a scope to examine the lining of the colon.

  • A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) checks for hidden blood in the stool.

  • A FIT-DNA checks for hidden blood in the stool, as well as detects DNA changes.

Screening usually start at age 50. When to start, how often and what test is right for you should be a discussion between you and your doctor.

Lung Cancer Screening

Lung cancer screening involves a CT scan of the lungs. Screening could start anytime between ages 74 and 80 and depends personal history with smoking and/or symptoms.  

Prostate Cancer Screening

Prostate or PSA screening guidelines depend on your risk. Men can start screening at 50 years old or even 45. This usually involves a test to look for abnormal levels of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in the blood.

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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