Cancer Screening At Every Birthday: What To Ask Your Doctor

Regardless of whether you're having symptoms, you should have an annual checkup with your primary care doctor, Putao Cen, MD, an associate professor of oncology with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth in Houston and a member of the Cancer Center at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, says.

Based on your age and family history, your doctor may recommend certain cancer screenings. For example, mammograms to screen for breast cancer should begin at age 40. But if you have a family history of breast cancer, they may recommend one sooner.

If you're between the age of 45 to 50, the American Cancer Society recommends getting a colonoscopy screening. It's also a good idea to ask your doctor about doing an endoscopy with a colonoscopy to check for precancerous conditions related to esophageal cancer.

“If you have a first-degree relative with cancer, then the first screening colonoscopy should be at age 40 or 10 years younger than the youngest person affected with colon cancer in the family,” says Smitha Krishnamurthi, MD, an oncologist in the department of hematology and medical oncology at Cleveland Clinic.

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