MSD Manual

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Cancer Screening Recommendations*

Cancer Screening Recommendations*



Lung cancer

Low-dose computed tomography (CT)

Yearly in people who smoke or who quit smoking less than 15 years ago (and smoked at least a certain amount) who are between ages 50 and 80

Colorectal cancer

Stool examination for occult blood or immunohistochemical test

Yearly from age 45 to 75†

Stool DNA test

Multi-target stool DNA test every 3 years from age 45 to 75†

Sigmoidoscopic or colonoscopic examination

Every 5 years from age 45 to 75† (sigmoidoscopy)

Every 10 years from age 45 to 75† (colonoscopy)

Computed tomography colonography

Every 5 years from age 45 to 75†

Prostate cancer

Blood test for prostate-specific antigen (PSA)

The benefit of screening is uncertain, so men age 50 or older and their doctors should discuss the possible risks and benefits of screening

African American men and men whose father or brother developed prostate cancer before age 65 should have this discussion at age 45

Cervical cancer

Papanicolaou (Pap) test and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) test

HPV test only or Pap test plus HPV test in women ages 21 to 65†

Recommended starting age and frequency of screening varies from every 3 to 5 years depending on age, screening test, and medical organization guidelines

Breast cancer


Women ages 40–44: Option to start yearly screening

Women ages 45–54: Yearly

Women ≥ 55: Every 2 years; screening continues as long as woman is expected to live at least 10 more years

* Recommendations for screening are influenced by many factors. These screening recommendations, based primarily on those of the American Cancer Society, are for people with an average risk of cancer who have no symptoms of cancer. For people with a higher risk, such as those with a strong family history of certain cancers or those who have had a previous cancer, screening may be recommended more frequently or to start at a younger age. Screening tests other than those listed here may also be recommended. Other organizations, such as the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, may have slightly different recommendations, which are included here for some cancers. A person's physician can help the person decide when to begin screening and which tests should be used.

† Some screening recommendations include a starting age and stopping age. The decision to continue screening after the stopping age is based on a discussion with a doctor about the risks and benefits.