Cancer Prevention & Screening Guidelines

Cancer prevention is important to your health. Learn about making healthy lifestyle choices that can help prevent cancer. Cancer screenings need to be a regular part of your routine health exams. Know the guidelines for screening tests that can detect cancer early before there are symptoms. Treatment often is most effective when cancer is diagnosed early.

How can I reduce my risk of cancer?

Making healthy choices can go a long way in helping you have a healthier life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t smoke or use tobacco. Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do for your health. Need help quitting? Call the Maine Tobacco Helpline at 1-800-207-1230.

  • Be safe in the sun. Use sunscreen, and cover up when you’re in the sun. Stay in the shade when the sun is at its brightest – between 10 am and 4 pm.

  • Have fewer alcoholic drinks. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink per day for women or two drinks per day for men.

  • Know your family history for cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting genetic testing if you think you are at risk.

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. The American Cancer Society recommends eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Know your risk factors. Some people may inherit a higher risk of cancer. The Cancer Risk and Prevention Clinic at Maine Medical Center offers evaluation, genetic counseling and genetic testing, if indicated.

  • Have cancer screenings. Have regular cancer screenings, and get regular medical check-ups. Screening tests can find certain cancers in early stages, when treatment is most effective.    

Cancer Screenings: Overview

Talk to Your Provider About Cancer Screenings

The following are the screenings recommended by the American Cancer Society. Talk to your primary care provider, if you have a family history of cancer or other risk factors to see how often you should be screened. If you are at a high risk, your screening schedule may change.

  • Colorectal cancer. Talk to your doctor about being screened for colorectal (colon) cancer starting at age 50. Learn more about colorectal cancer screening.

  • Skin cancer. Talk to your doctor about being screened for skin cancer. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommend that people perform a skin self-exam once a month.

  • Lung cancer. If you are an older adult with a history of smoking one pack a day for 30 years, or two packs a day for 15 years, ask your doctor about a lung cancer screening. Learn more about lung cancer screening from the Maine Comprehensive Lung Cancer Screening Program.

Cancer Screenings for Women

Check with Your Provider About the Following Screenings

  • Breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about getting regular mammograms starting at age 45, and clinical breast exams starting at age 20. Learn more about breast cancer screenings and mammograms. This recommendation has been carefully considered by the multidisciplinary breast care team at MaineHealth/Maine Medical Center.  The mammography screening guidelines continue to evolve, and it is very important for any individual to discuss the optimal time to start and merits of screening mammography with their physician so that any individual can make an informed decision.

  • Cervical cancer. Begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after first having vaginal intercourse, but no later than age 21. Learn more about cervical cancer screening through regular exams and Pap tests.

  • Endometrial cancer. At menopause, women should be told the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding to their doctor.

Cancer Screenings for Men

Talk to Your Provider About Cancer Screenings

  • Prostate cancer. Starting at age 50, talk to your doctor about whether you should be tested for prostate cancer. If you have risk factors, you may wish to be screened starting at age 40. Learn more about prostate cancer screening.

  • You may also wish to be examined for other kinds of cancer during regular health exams. Ask your doctor about counseling and exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, lymph nodes and testes in regular check-ups.

Looking for information on cancer?

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