Cancer Screening and Early Detection

Cancer Screening and Early Detection

cancer screeningCancer that is detected in its earliest stages, when the tumor tends to be smaller and has not spread to other parts of the body, has the greatest likelihood of cure and long terms survival. For this reason, certain screening tests are recommended to detect specific cancers as early as possible.


For many cancers, certain risk factors increase the likelihood that cancer may occur. Some risk factors cannot be controlled -such as age, gender, ethnicity and family history. However, the risk of developing many of the most common cancers can be increased or decreased based on lifestyle and other choices. People who are at increased risk for certain cancers may need to follow a different screening schedule, such as starting at an earlier age or being screened more often. Those with symptoms that could be related to cancer should see their doctor right away.

Cancer Types

Risk factors 

  • Getting older
  • Family history of breast cancer
    (It is estimated that 5-10% of breast cancers are caused by a genetic mutation)
  • Benign breast problems
  • Early exposure to ionizing radiation
  • Having children after age 30 or not at all
  • Longer exposure to estrogen and progesterone
  • Being overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Eating fewer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fiber
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Never breast feeding
  • Smoking

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • All women over the age of 20 should perform monthly self breast examination (SBE) to become familiar with how their breasts normally feel. This makes it easier to detect changes, which should be reported to a doctor

  • Women over the age of 20 should receive a periodic clinical breast exam (CBE) by a qualified health professional about every 3 years as part of their routine care. At age 40, annual CBE is recommended

  • A mammogram is a special x-ray of the breast. Mammograms have been shown to detect breast cancer when the tumor is too small to be felt on physical examination. The American College of Radiologists (ACR), the American Cancer Society (ACS), and the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) strongly recommend that breast cancer screening with digital mamography begin at age 40 and be performed annually.

  • Women who are determined to be at high risk may require additional imaging studies or testing.


Risk factors

  • Smoking remains the greatest risk factor for lung cancer. Your risk of lung cancer increases with the number of cigarettes you smoke each day and the number of years you have smoked. Quitting at any age can significantly lower your risk of developing lung cancer
  • Being female - Current or former women smokers have a greater risk of lung cancer than do men who have smoked an equal amount. Though it isn't known why, some experts speculate that women have a greater susceptibility to the cancer-causing substances found in tobacco. Others believe that estrogen may play a role. Women also are known to inhale more than men do, and they are less likely to quit.
  • Exposure to secondhand smoke
  • Radon gas exposure. Although unsafe levels of radon can accumulate in any building, the greatest exposure risk most people face is at home
  • Workplace exposure to asbestos and other substances known to cause cancer such as arsenic, chromium, nickel and tar soot especially if you're a smoker
  • Family history of lung cancer
  • Increased alcohol consumption

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography in adults ages 55 to 80 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years. Screening should be discontinued once a person has not smoked for 15 years or develops a health problem that substantially limits life expectancy or the ability or willingness to have curative lung surgery.

    The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (TaskForce) has issued a final recommendation statement on Screening for Lung Cancer. This final recommendation statement applies to adults who have no signs or symptoms of lung cancer but who are at high risk for developing the disease because of their age and smoking history. The final recommendation statement summarizes what the Task Force learned about the potential benefits and harms of screening for lung cancer: Adults between 55 and 80 years old who are at high risk for lung cancer because they are current heavy smokers or have quit within the past 15 years should be screened every year with a test called low dose computed tomography.
  • Persons with one or more risk factors should discuss the benefit of cancer screening for oral cancer with a physician.

Take our online Lung Cancer Screening Quiz and see if you should speak with a healthcare professional about a lung CT screening.

Risk factors

  • Age - About 90 percent of people diagnosed with colon cancer are older than 50
  • African-Americans have a greater risk of colon cancer than do people of other races
  • A personal history of inflammatory intestinal conditions - such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease polyps or colorectal cancer
  • Family history of inherited syndromes that increase colon cancer risk - including familial adenomatous polyposis and hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, which is also known as Lynch syndrome - colon polyps or colon cancer
  • Low-fiber, high-fat diet
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Heavy intake of alcohol

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy in adults, beginning at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years
  • The USPSTF recommends against routine screening for colorectal cancer in adults 76 to 85 years of age There may be considerations that support colorectal cancer screening in an individual patient
  • The USPSTF recommends against screening for colorectal cancer in adults older than age 85 years
  • The USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to assess the benefits and harms of computed tomographic colonography and fecal DNA testing as screening modalities of colorectal cancer


Risk factors

  • Age - most prostate cancers occur in men over the age of 50
  • Race or ethnicity - African-American men have a higher risk of developing and dying of prostate cancer
  • Nationality - Prostate cancer is most common in North America, northwestern Europe, Australia and onCaribbean islands
  • Father or brother who has had prostate cancer, especially if it was diagnosed before the age of 65.
  • A high-fat diet and obesity
  • High testosterone levels

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • While the use of digital rectal examination with or without prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing has been considered the "gold standard" for prostate cancer screening for many years, the evidence of the benefit of these methods for the early detection of prostate cancer is inconsistent. Therefore, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the current evidence is insufficient to assess the balance of benefits and harms of prostate cancer screening in men younger than age 75 years
  • The American Cancer Society (ACS) does believe that health care professionals should discuss the potential benefits and limitations of prostate cancer early detection testing with men before any testing begins. This discussion should include an offer for testing with the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal exam (DRE) yearly, beginning at age 50, to men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and have at least a 10-year life expectancy. Following this discussion, those men who favor testing should be tested. Men should actively take part in this decision by learning about prostate cancer and the pros and cons of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer. If the risk for prostate cancer is greater, the discussion should take place at an earlier age



Risk factors - the most important risk factor for cervical cancer is infection by the human papilloma virus (HPV). Other risk factors include:

  • Many sexual partners, early sexual activity and/or other sexually transmitted diseases (Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis or HIV/AIDS) as these are thought to increase your risk of acquiring HPV
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Being overweight
  • Taking oral contraceptives for a long time
  • Multiple pregnancies
  • Women whose mother took Diesthylstilbestrol (DES) during their pregnancy
  • A weak immune system
  • Family history of cervical cancer

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) strongly recommends screening for cervical cancer in women who have been sexually active and have a cervix
  • The USPSTF recommends against routinely screening women older than age 65 for cervical cancer if they have had adequate recent screening with normal Pap smears and are not otherwise at high risk for cervical cancer

Oral Cancer
Risk factors

  • Alcohol and tobacco use - Some researchers estimate that 8 out of every 10 cases of oral cancer could be eliminated by avoiding alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking
  • Prolonged or excessive exposure to the sun is associated with an increased risk for cancer of the lip
  • Infectious conditions - including human papilloma virus (HPV) infection
  • A weak immune system

Screening and early detection guidelines

  • The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routinely screening adults for oral cancer
  • Persons with one or more risk factors should discuss the benefit of cancer screening for oral cancer with a physician

Risk factors

  • Genetic factors
  • The most significant risk factor for ovarian cancer is having an inherited mutation in one of two genes called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes were originally identified in families with multiple cases of breast cancer, which is how they got their names, but people with these mutations also have a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer
  • Another known genetic link involves an inherited syndrome called hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC). Women in HNPCC families are at increased risk of cancers of the uterine lining (endometrium), colon, ovary and stomach. Risk of ovarian cancer associated with HNPCC is lower than is that of ovarian cancer associated with BRCA mutations
  • A history of breast cancer
  • Age - ovarian cancer most often develops after menopause
  • Never having taken oral contraceptives
  • Infertility and/or never having been pregnant
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT), especially for those women who took HRT for more than 5 years and/or who took estrogen only
  • Obesity
  • Use of male hormones, often used to treat endometriosis

Screening and early detection guidelines

There is no existing evidence that any screening test, including CA-125, ultrasound, or pelvic examination, reduces mortality from ovarian cancer. Furthermore, existing evidence that screening can detect early-stage ovarian cancer is insufficient to indicate that this earlier diagnosis will reduce mortality. Therefore, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends against routine screening for ovarian cancer.

For more information on cancer screening guidelines, click here, for the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).


Risk factors

  •     Bladder cancer is 2 to 3 times more common in men than in women and is unusual before age 50
  •     Smoking increases the risk for bladder cancer; about 50% of all cases of bladder cancer occur in current or former smokers. Smokers should be counseled on quitting smoking
  •     People in occupations that involve exposure to chemicals used in the dye or rubber industries may also have increased risk for bladder cancer

Screening and early detection guidelines

Currently, there is no screening recommendation for the early detection of bladder cancer



Key Patient Contacts

Oncology Nurse Navigator
Appointment scheduling and treatment navigation.
Susan Saporito, RN, BSN, OCN 

Abigale Hassel, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C - Social Worker
Patient support and information.

Lung Cancer Screening Program Coordinators
Lisa Mick, RN and Brenda Gorman

Cancer Center Accreditations

Commission on Cancer, ACR, NAPBC, Screening Center of Excellence

Upcoming Classes

Hope & Healing Stitchers - Knitting & Crocheting Club - Tuesdays 09-06-16 thru 12-13-16 - 01/04/2016
Join fellow community knitters and/or crocheters on an ongoing basis. Share and learn new skills, while working on community projects that will benefit Kennedy Cancer Center patients and their families. Please bring your own supplies and materials.



Tai Chi - Mondays 01-09-17 - 12-11-17 - 10/28/2016
Tai Chi is a Chinese slow motion exercise designed to promote good health and longevity by circulating internal energy or 'chi.' Benefits include promoting relaxation and reducing stress. Anyone can do it regardless of age or condition. Great by itself or complements other exercises, lowers blood pressure, improves balance and coordination, slows and improves breathing and builds strength and vitality for cancer patients during and after treatment.





Kennedy Health & Kennedy Health Alliance (KHA) complies with applicable Federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex. To see our full ACA Section 1557 Notice please CLICK HERE.