What preventative screening tests are recommended for men and women?

One of the most important jobs physicians have is trying to prevent disease before it starts, or catching it early enough to treat it easily. That is why we recommend certain tests or immunizations in order to keep our patients healthy.

Screening Tests Generally Considered Useful

While many different types of tests exist, not all are useful at detecting disease accurately and early. That is why only certain types of tests are recommended by physicians. It is important that you come to your physician regularly for general physical examinations, as it is difficult to fit in discussions on screening tests into your regular visit.

TESTS FOR WOMEN

Mammogram

This is a screening test to detect breast cancer. This test is recommended every 1-2 years for all women over the age of 50 (earlier in some women who have a family history of breast cancer, especially at young ages, or for those who have

had breast problems at a younger age). It is best combined with an annual physical so that a physician can check the breasts for growths or masses. 

Please click on the link below for a good summary regarding breast cancer and screening tests:

https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/breastscreening/

Pap Smear

This is a screening test to detect cervical cancer. This test is recommended every 1-3 years for all women from the age of sexual activity to age 70. Most forms of cervical cancer are caused by a virus that is very commonly found in society, and a vaccine is now available.

Please click on the link below for a good summary regarding cervial cancer and screening tests:

https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/cervscreening/

Stool Occult Blood Testing

This is one type of screening test for the detection of colorectal (bowel) cancer.  This test of three separate stool samples is recommended every 2 years for both men and women over age 50. Patients with first-degree relatives who have had

colorectal cancer, or polyps of the bowel should forego this testing and have a colonoscopy instead. This is true also of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and other types of bowel abnormalities. Please speak with your physician to decide which type of screening is best for you.

Please click on the link below for a good summary regarding colorectal cancer and screening tests:

https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/coloscreening/

TESTS FOR MEN

PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) Testing

This is one method screening test for the detection of prostate cancer. This blood test is offered annually to men over age 50 (and younger if there is a positive family history). However, this test is controversial. It is not as accurate as some of the other screening tests, therefore there is a risk of undergoing unnecessary investigations for a false positive test (or, having a false sense of security from a false negative test). It is for this reason that the Ontario government does not cover the cost of this test. There is also controversy because many older men may have prostate cancer but will ultimately die of another illness. It is therefore difficult to know if the treatment for prostate cancer (which has its own side effects) is truly warranted.

The PSA test is best combined with an annual rectal examination by your physician.  Please speak with your physician to decide whether PSA testing is a good choice for you.  Click on the link below for a good summary regarding colorectal cancer and screening tests.

https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/other_cancers/

Stool Occult Blood Testing

This is one type of screening test for the detection of colorectal (bowel) cancer.  This test of three separate stool samples is recommended every 2 years for both men and women over age 50. Patients with first-degree relatives who have had

colorectal cancer, or polyps of the bowel should forego this testing and have a colonoscopy instead. This is true also of patients with inflammatory bowel disease and other types of bowel abnormalities. Please speak with your physician to decide which type of screening is best for you.  Please click on the link below for a good summary regarding colorectal cancer and screening tests:

https://www.cancercare.on.ca/pcs/screening/coloscreening/