Find Cancer Early With Regular Screenings

Cancer Screenings

Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of cancer incidence in the nation. You can reduce your risk of developing cancer by eating cancer-fighting foods, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking and using sunscreen.

In addition, getting regular cancer screenings, including mammograms, colon cancer screening, prostate cancer testing,, and lung cancer screening can help detect cancer at its earliest stages when it is most successfully treated. Our goal at Penn Highlands is to help you and your family get the appropriate cancer screenings when you need them and close to home.

How Is Cancer Detected/Diagnosed?

Penn Highlands oncologists have the skills, expertise, and access to the latest equipment to diagnose all types of cancer. Tumors are detected the earliest and in their most treatable stage with screening tests that may use imaging, blood testing, or cell sample collection. The most common cancer screenings are mammograms, colon cancer screenings, prostate cancer testing, and lung cancer screening.
Cancer also is sometimes detected after seeking medical attention for symptoms that are otherwise unexplained. Cancer that is detected after symptoms have appeared is typically more developed than cancers detected through regular screening.

Tests Used for Cancer Screening

Penn Highlands uses the latest technology to screen for cancer, meaning there’s no need to travel outside of Central Pennsylvania to get the tests you need. We offer the following type of tests to screen for cancer:

  • Breast Cancer Screening: We offer both digital 2-D mammography and 3-D mammography, known as tomosynthesis. Traditional 2-D mammography continues to be the standard for breast cancer screening in most women. In women with dense breasts or at higher risk of developing breast cancer, your physician may recommend 3-D mammography.
  • Lung Cancer Screening: Penn Highlands was the first healthcare facility in the region to offer low-dose CT scans to screen for lung cancer. Low-dose CT scans use about a quarter of the radiation of conventional CT scans and can detect much smaller lesions than X-ray.
  • Colon Cancer Screening: A colonoscopy currently is the only cancer screening that also can be used to prevent cancer. During a colonoscopy, the physician will remove any nodules, preventing them from developing into cancer. Some patients also may choose to use a non-invasive screening test, such as Cologuard or a fecal blood test. However, a colonoscopy is required if those tests are positive.
  • Cervical Cancer Screening: This test is performed by your primary care provider or gynecologist in their offices typically during a routine annual check-up. The test is performed by taking a small sample of tissue from the cervix. Although it may cause momentary discomfort, it is not painful. Your doctor also may recommend a blood test to check for HPV, which is the cause of most cases of cervical cancers. Skin Cancer Screening: Your primary care provider or a dermatologist checks for skin cancer by examining your skin, including in places such as your scalp, back, and the bottoms of your feet. If a suspicious spot is detected, your doctor will take a very small shaving of skin that will be sent for lab testing to determine if it is cancerous. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer and one of the most treatable if detected early.

Download our Mammography brochure to learn more about this important screening, located in the resources sidebar.

When Should I Get Cancer Screenings?

To know which cancer screenings you need as well as when to get them, the first thing you need to do is to determine if you are at average risk or greater risk of developing any types of cancer. This is determined by looking at your health, your lifestyle factors such as whether you smoke, and also your family health history. Your Penn Highlands primary care provider will help you determine your risk level and recommend which screenings you need.

For people at average risk of developing cancer, the Penn Highlands cancer treatment team recommends following regular cancer screening guidelines. All recommendations for frequency based on normal results of previous test.

  • Skin Cancer: Baseline at age 20; monthly home checks; annual physician skin check.
  • Breast Cancer: Baseline mammogram at age 40; annually after age 40; can begin every other year at age 55
  • Cervical Cancer: Pap screening every 3 years from ages 21-29; and every 5 years from ages 30-65
  • Colon Cancer: From ages 45-75, individuals should have one of the following tests to screen for colon and rectal cancer: a FIT (fecal immunochemical test) or FOBT (fecal occult blood test) every year, stool DNA test every three years, a CT colonography or flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years, or colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Prostate Cancer: Digital rectal exam annually starting at age 50; PSA blood test starting at age 50, talk with your doctor about frequency
  • Lung Cancer: If you meet the criteria, a low-dose CT scan is recommended annually. Criteria include ages 55-74, current smoker or quit within past 15 years, and smoking history of 30 “pack years” or more (ie a pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years).
  • Oral Exam (for mouth and throat cancer): Annually by your dentist starting at age 18 plus monthly self-exams; also ask your primary care provider for an oral exam as part of your annual checkup

Cancer Screening Locations in Central Pennsylvania

Penn Highlands offers cancer screenings at several locations throughout Central Pennsylvania, so you don’t have far to go when it comes time for your mammogram, colonoscopy, or lung cancer screening. All five of our hospitals provide digital 2-D mammography, with 3-D mammography available at Penn Highlands DuBois, Penn Highlands Elk and Penn Highlands Huntingdon. All five of our hospitals offer colonoscopy for the detection of colorectal cancer and lung cancer screening with low-dose CT scans.

Download our Low-Dose Lung CT Cancer Screening brochure to learn more about this important screening, located in the resources sidebar.

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