Cancer Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for most adults. You should talk with your physician about your medical history and whether you need additional screenings.

Breast Cancer
  • Yearly mammograms at age 40 and older.
  • Clinical breast exam about every three years at ages 20 to 39; every year at age 40 and older.
  • Breast self-exam monthly at age 20 and older.
  • Click here to learn about our comprehensive breast health services.
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 five years*, or
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or
  • Double-contrast barium enema every five years*, or
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years*
Tests that primarily find cancer:
  • Yearly fecal occult blood test**, or
  • Yearly fecal immunochemical test every year**, or
  • Stool DNA test, 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.

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer
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 have a yearly endometrial biopsy.

Cervical Cancer
All women should begin cervical cancer screening about three 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 two years using the newer liquid-based Pap test.
  • Beginning at age 30, women who have had three normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every two to three years. Women older than 30 also may get screened every three years with either the conventional or liquid-based Pap test, plus the human papilloma virus test.
  • Women 70 years of age or older who have had three 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 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.
Lung Cancer

Growing evidence indicates that computed tomography (CT scanning) of the chest can detect small tumors in the lungs before they can be seen by conventional chest X-Rays. This suggests that CT can be used as a screening test for patients at risk for lung cancer because of a history of tobacco smoking. The test may detect lung cancer early, before it has spread, and when it is potentially curable.

Who Should Consider a Lung Cancer Screening
  • A person 50 years of age or older.
  • Current or former smoker.
  • Smoking history of greater than 20 pack years (the number of packs smoked per day multiplied by the number of years of smoking).
  • No history of cancer (other than non- melanoma skin cancer).

Patients must be referred by a physician for this test on the basis of risk.Learn More

Prostate Cancer

Men should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of testing at age 50; at age 45 for African American men and men who have/had a father or brother with prostate cancer before age 65.

Cancer-Related Check-up

For people age 20 or older having periodic health exams, a cancer-related check-up should include health counseling and, depending on a person's age and gender, exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.

Piedmont offers cancer services across Greater Atlanta and beyond.
For a free referral to a Piedmont cancer specialist, call 866-900-4321