Reducing your risk of cancer begins at home with a healthy lifestyle and continues at your provider’s office with other preventive measures, like certain vaccines and cancer screenings. Screenings can not only detect cancer in the earliest stages, when it’s most treatable, but they can also help prevent certain cancers.
Learn whether you’re at higher risk for certain types of cancer and what you can do to reduce your risk.
Colorectal cancer risk assessment
Annual screening mammograms are recommended for women ages 40 and older. Your provider may recommend a different screening schedule if you’re at higher risk for breast cancer. Talk with your provider about the screening schedule that’s right for you.
Colorectal cancer is largely preventable with regular screening and is treatable with early detection. The American Cancer Society recommends people at average risk start regular screening at age 45. People at higher risk—such as those who have a close relative who has had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer or those who are African American or American Indian—may need to start screening earlier. Screening tests for colorectal cancer include colonoscopies, stool tests and sigmoidoscopies. Talk with your provider about which test is right for you.
Of gynecological cancers, only cervical cancer has a screening test. The Pap test improves your chances for prevention or successful treatment by detecting cell changes early. Based on guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force, we recommend Pap tests for all women ages 21 to 65.
A low-dose CT scan for lung cancer may be recommended for men and women ages 50 to 80 who currently smoke (or quit less than 15 years ago) and were heavy smokers (defined as 20 pack-years, i.e., smoking one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years). A referral from a provider is needed for a lung cancer screening. Ask your primary care provider for more information and a referral.
We offer screening for prostate cancer for men ages 55 and older and those at high risk, particularly African American men, after a discussion of the risks and benefits with your urologist or primary care provider. Experts may recommend these screening tests either individually or together:
At Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Cancer Care, we offer skin cancer screenings in several clinics. Ask your provider for more information about skin cancer screenings.
Talk with your primary care provider about any other cancer-related screenings you may need based on your individual and family health history.
Virginia Mason Franciscan Health Cancer Care offers hereditary cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling for many cancer syndromes such as hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (BRCA1 and BRCA2), Lynch syndrome and many other cancers. If you have a strong family history of cancer, genetic testing can help you:
Our genetic experts provide genetic testing services, including:
You may benefit from meeting with a genetic provider if you or a close family member meets any of the following criteria:
If you have concerns about developing cancer because of your family history, talk with your provider. A referral for genetic testing can help clarify whether your family history puts you at risk for a hereditary cancer syndrome.