Screening for cancer: Get checked early and stay on schedule

Knowing your family's risk for cancer and catching signs and symptoms early make it easier to treat certain kinds of cancer. Talk to your doctor about screenings for the following common cancers:

Breast cancer

Mammograms detect changes in your breasts before you can see or feel anything. It's recommended most women get mammograms after age 50. But women with a higher risk should begin at age 30 with their doctor's direction. If your family has a history of breast cancer, ask your doctor when you should start getting screenings.

Cervical cancer

Most cases of cervical cancer are preventable with routine Pap tests. This test finds abnormal cells on the cervix so they can be treated before cancer develops. Women should start getting Pap tests done when they become sexually active or at age 21. Women under 30 should have a Pap test every year. Women ages 30-65 should be checked every two to three years.

Colon cancer

Colon cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. There are often no symptoms, which is why it's important for people ages 50+ to get routine screenings. If your family has a history of colon cancer or polyps your doctor may recommend screenings at an earlier age. A colonoscopy looks at your entire colon and is the best way to screen for cancer.