Cancer Screening available at Penn Highlands Healthcare

Find Cancer Early With Regular Screenings

Cancer Screenings

Cancer screenings for breast, colon, lung, cervical and other types of cancer can find cancer at its earliest stages when it is most easily and successfully treated. 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, you can improve your quality of life by getting regular preventive cancer screenings, including breast cancer checks, mammograms, colon cancer screening, prostate cancer testing, and lung cancer screening at the appropriate times so that cancer can be found early. Our goal at Penn Highlands is to help you and your family get the appropriate cancer screenings in central Pennsylvania when you need them—and get them close to home.

How Much Does a Cancer Screening Cost?

The Affordable Care Act (“Obama Care”) made it possible for most people to get free cancer screening tests. Cancer screenings are now included as part of the essential health benefits that must be completely paid by any health plan without you owing a copay, coinsurance, or meeting a deductible. However, these tests are only provided free to you if they are screenings and you do not have any symptoms. (If you have symptoms, these tests are used to diagnose cancer and are not considered preventive care.) Also, different health plans use different guidelines as to when and what type of screenings are covered, so you should check with your insurance to make sure you meet their requirements. (Health plans that existed before March 2010 that were not substantially modified and short-term health insurance plans are not required to cover these preventive screenings, although some do.)

Can Cancer Be Detected and Diagnosed with Preventive Cancer Screenings?

Penn Highlands oncologists have the skills, expertise, and access to the latest equipment to diagnose all types of cancer. Tumors are detected at the earliest and in their most treatable stage with cancer screening tests that may use imaging, blood testing, or cell sample collection. The most common preventive cancer screenings are mammograms, colon cancer screenings including colonoscopies, 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 screenings.

Tests Used for Cancer Screenings in Central Pennsylvania

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. We also encourage regular breast cancer checks with your primary care provider.
  • 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 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 or Lung Cancer Screening brochures to learn more about these important screenings.

When Should I Get Cancer Screenings?

To know when and how frequently you should get cancer screenings, you need to determine if you are at average 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 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 are based on normal results of previous test. If your primary care provider has said you are at greater risk of developing cancer, follow the screening recommendations they provide.

  • Skin Cancer: Baseline check by a healthcare provider at age 20; monthly home checks and annual healthcare provider skin check throughout life
  • 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 primary care provider 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

Locations for Cancer Screening 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. We provide digital 2-D mammography for women at average risk, with 3-D mammography for women at high risk or those with dense breasts, in six communities throughout central Pennsylvania. We offer colonoscopies to detect colon and rectal cancers and low-dose CT scans to detect lung cancer at our five hospitals.

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