Cancer Screening

Getting screened for certain types of cancer is an important part of your healthcare. At UK Markey Cancer Center — Kentucky’s only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center — we offer a comprehensive cancer screening program, with a special focus on prevention and education.

Our screening guidelines are informed by the recommendations from the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), American Cancer Society (ACS), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI). Following these guidelines may help to detect cancer at earlier stages, when it is easiest to treat. In some cases, screening can even prevent cancer from developing.

What is cancer screening?

Cancer screening is a form of preventive healthcare. Just like getting your cholesterol checked regularly for early signs of heart disease, a cancer screening test looks for signs of actual tumors or possible problems. Some screenings are done with advanced imaging, while others require testing blood or tissue for evidence of cancer.

It is not possible to screen for every type of cancer. Fortunately, some of the most common — and deadly — types of cancer have reliable screenings. Your insurance is required to cover the cost of these preventive screenings.

Types of cancer we screen

Markey offers screening exams for the cancers below:

Breast Cancer

The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend individuals at average risk begin breast screening (an X-ray of both breasts), also called a mammogram, at the age of 40 and to continue regular screening as long as the individual is in good health. Clinical breast exams are recommended every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and annually (every year) for women 40 and older. Talk with your doctor about your family history and options for testing at an earlier age. 

Cervical Cancer

In most cases, cervical cancer is caused by an extremely common sexually transmitted infection called human papillomavirus (HPV). Screenings for cervical cancer, performed by your OB-GYN or primary care provider, are designed to detect HPV or cervical changes that can develop before cancer is present.

ACOG and USPSTF recommend that women ages 21 to 29 receive a Pap test every three years. Women ages 30-65 are recommended to choose from the combinations of options below when screening for cervical cancer: 

  • Pap test alone every 3 years 
  • HPV test alone every 5 years or; 
  • Pap test and HPV test every 5 years 

After age 65, screening is not recommended if you have no history of cervical changes and either 3 consecutive negative Pap & HPV tests within 10 years.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer screenings should start at age 45 for people at average risk for colorectal cancer and continue until age 75. 

Colon Cancer Screening Intervals

Colon Cancer Screening Tests Frequency
High-Sensitivity Guaiac Fecal Occult Blood Test Every year
Stool DNA-FIT  Every 1 – 3 years
Computed Tomography Colonography (CTC) Every 5 years
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy  Every 5 years
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy + annual Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) Every 10 years with FIT test every year
Colonoscopy screening Every 10 years

Lung Cancer

A low-dose chest CT scan is recommended annually for people between 50 and 80 years old who have a 20 pack-year smoking history (if you smoked one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years both would equal a 20 pack-year smoking history) and currently smoke, or have quit within the past 15 years.

Ovarian Cancer

Through the Ovarian Cancer Screening Program, Markey offers free ovarian cancer screenings to all women over 50 and women over 25 with a family history of the disease.

Prostate Cancer

Between the ages of 55 and 69, all men should make an individual decision with their healthcare provider about whether or not to be screened for prostate cancer with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. High levels of PSA — or levels that trend upward over time — could indicate the presence of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screenings aren’t recommended for men ages 70 and older. 

More questions? We have answers

The important thing to remember about cancer screening recommendations is that they are just that — recommendations. If you have a family history of cancer or certain other health conditions, your risk may be much higher for developing cancer. In these cases, you may need to start screening earlier or more frequently.

Your UK HealthCare provider can help you decide which screenings you need and when you need them. Talk to your doctor about your complete medical and family history to ensure the best screening schedule. Your provider can also work with you to prevent cancer in other ways, like by quitting smoking or starting a new fitness plan.

NCI Comprehensive Cancer Center - A Cancer Center Designated by the National Cancer Institute

Markey Cancer Center is designated by the National Cancer Institute as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – a distinction that recognizes our commitment to accelerating precision cancer research and care to patients. We are the first and only NCI-Comprehensive Cancer Center in Kentucky, and one of 57 in the nation.