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Cancer Screening Guidelines

At Central Vermont Medical Center we support the American Cancer Society screening recommendations and encourage you to discuss appropriate screenings with your primary care provider.

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What is a Health Screening?

Health screenings are a way to detect serious medical problems before they become costly and life-threatening. At CVMC we support the concept of screening for disease, encourage you to discuss appropriate screenings with your primary care provider, and take advantage of free community screening we periodically offer. Check Healthy Community regularly for times, dates and opportunities.

American Cancer Society Screening Recommendations:

Breast Cancer

  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exams (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
  • Women should report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Women at increased risk (e.g., family history, genetic tendency, past breast cancer) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of starting mammography screening earlier, having additional tests (e.g., breast ultrasound or MRI), or having more frequent exams.

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should follow one of these five testing schedules:

  • yearly Fecal Occult Blood Test or Fecal Immunichemical Test plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
  • colonoscopy every 10 years

All positive tests should be followed up with colonoscopy.

People should begin colorectal cancer screening earlier and/or undergo screening more often if they have any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors:

  • a personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative younger than 60 or in two first-degree relatives of any age) Note: a first degree relative is defined as a parent, sibling, or child.
  • a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
  • a family history of an hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome (familial adenomatous polyposis or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer)

Cervical Cancer

  • All women should begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after they begin having vaginal intercourse, but no later than when they are 21 years old. Screening should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid-based Pap test.
  • Beginning at age 30, women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years with either the conventional (regular) or liquid-based Pap test. Women who have certain risk factors such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth, HIV infection,or a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or chronic steroid use should continue to be screened annually.
  • Another reasonable option for women over 30 is to get screened every 3 years (but not more frequently) with either the conventional or liquid-based Pap test, plus the HPV DNA test.
  • Women 70 years of age or older who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having cervical cancer screening. Women with a history of cervical cancer, DES exposure before birth, HIV infection or a weakened immune system should continue to have screening as long as they are in good health.
  • Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having cervical cancer screening, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or precancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue to follow the guidelines above.

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer, and strongly encouraged to report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors. For women with or at high risk for hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), annual screening should be offered for endometrial cancer with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35.