Recommended Cancer Screenings for Men
The following cancer screening guidelines are recommended for men at average risk for cancer (unless otherwise specified) and without any specific symptoms. Men who are at increased risk for certain cancers may need to follow a different screening schedule, such as starting at an earlier age or being screened more often. Those with symptoms that could be related to cancer should see their doctor right away.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Beginning at age 45, the American Cancer Society recommends regular screenings with 1 of 6 different types of tests:
- Yearly guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
- Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- Multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every 3 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every 5 years
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
All positive tests should be followed up with colonoscopy.
Consult your doctor about starting colorectal screening earlier and/or undergoing screening more often if they have risk factors:
- Personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
- Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
- Family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome
The American Cancer Society does not recommend tests to check for lung cancer in people who are at average risk. But we do have screening guidelines for those who are at high risk of lung cancer due to cigarette smoking. Screening might be right for you if you are all of the following:
- 55 to 74 years of age
- In good health
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years (A pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked each day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. Someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year smoking history, as does someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years.)
Screening is done with an annual low-dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest. If you fit the list above, talk to a health care provider if you want to start screening.
Although regular testing for men under the age of 50 has recently fallen out of favor in standard practice, anyone with a genetic predisposition should check PSA levels annually in addition to a yearly rectal exam. Statistics show that if your father had prostate cancer, your risk doubles. If there’s more than two first-degree relatives diagnosed in your bloodline, it quadruples. There’s also increased risk if your mother had breast, ovarian, or uterine cancer.
- Both the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) should be offered annually, beginning at age 50, to men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy.
- Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a strong family history of one or more first-degree relatives (father, brothers) diagnosed before the age of 65) should begin testing at age 45.
- Men at even higher risk, due to multiple first-degree relatives affected at an early age, could begin testing at age 40. Depending on the results of this initial test, no further testing might be needed until age 45.
These are general guidelines. Discuss your personal schedule for screening guidelines with your primary care doctor.