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Screening & Detection

Routine cancer screenings play a vital role in early detection, prevention, and treatment of cancer.

Some cancers can develop without symptoms, only showing symptoms after they've grown and spread.

Screenings can show anomalies in the body that we can then test for cancer. They can also help detect early stage cancers when they're easier to treat.

Types of Cancer Screenings

Cancer screenings test people for early stages of cancer development, even though they have no symptoms.

There are a few ways to screen for cancer:

  • Physical exam — an exam to check for lumps or anything else that seems unusual.
  • Lab tests — samples of blood, tissue, urine, or other substances in the body to test for cancer.
  • Imaging tests — pictures of inside the body to look for tumors, growths, or anything else suspicious.
  • Genetic screening tests — blood tests to look for inherited cancer genes and DNA changes.

Routine Cancer Screenings

At UPMC CancerCenter, we offer:

Talk with your doctor about which screenings are right for you.

Cancer Screenings Save Lives

Scientists have studied patterns of cancer in the population to learn which people are more likely to get certain types of cancer. They've also studied what things around us and what things we do in our lives may cause cancer.

This data sometimes helps doctors decide:

  • Who should have screenings for certain types of cancer.
  • What types of screening tests people should have.
  • How often people should have these tests.

If your doctor suggests certain cancer screening tests as part of your health care plan, this doesn't mean he or she thinks you have cancer.

Since decisions about screening can be hard, you may want to discuss them with your doctor.

Not all screening tests are helpful, and most have risks. Ask your doctor about the potential benefits and risks of screening tests and if they've proven to decrease the risk of dying from cancer.

If your doctor suspects that you may have symptoms of cancer, he or she will order diagnostic tests to confirm. These tests aren't suitable for screening people who have no symptoms.