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Cancer Screenings

Why choose Ochsner Health for your cancer screenings?

Routine cancer screenings are an important part of everyone’s preventive care. Screenings can find cancer early, in its most treatable stages, which in turn helps save lives. Screenings for some types of cancer can even detect cells that are precancerous and remove them before tumors form.

With multiple locations in Louisiana and Mississippi, Ochsner makes it easy to get a screening close to home. And if a screening does detect possible cancer, the extensive network of oncology specialists at Ochsner helps ensure that your journey to care will be coordinated quickly and in one place.

In most circumstances, your health insurance will cover preventive cancer screenings at no cost.

Several cancer screenings are available at most Ochsner locations. Your Ochsner primary care doctor can also perform some types of cancer screenings or help you schedule a screening at a location near you. Speak with your doctor to learn more about your screening options.

Many breast cancers don't come with symptoms and are only detected on screening mammograms, which is why we encourage yearly mammograms for most women 40 and over, regardless of family history.

A mammogram is a special type of X-ray that can detect breast cancer. Ochsner offers 3D mammography (also called digital breast tomosynthesis) for the most advanced breast imaging.

Women at a high risk of breast cancer may need to start screening before age 40, or they may need screenings with breast MRI to provide more detail about their breast tissue.

Your Ochsner primary care doctor can help you assess when to start screening.

We recommend a Pap test every three years from age 21 to 29.

Starting at age 30, women should get an HPV test every five years, or Pap every three years. Women age 65 or older may no longer need screening exams.

These tests are regular screenings performed during a pelvic exam and can be performed by an Ochsner OB-GYN or by your primary care doctor. Most women over 65 do not need screening for cervical cancer.

Starting at age 45, you should talk with a healthcare provider about testing options.

The gold standard of colon cancer screening is a colonoscopy — a procedure that looks inside of your colon for possible signs of cancer. People who have normal results can go 10 years between colonoscopies, which cease for most people at age 75.

People at high risk for colorectal cancer may want to start screening before age 45. They may also choose to use stool-based tests that look for possible signs of cancer, such as abnormal DNA, every one to three years to avoid more frequent colonoscopies. If a stool-based test shows abnormal results, a patient will likely need a colonoscopy to rule out cancer.

We recommend lung cancer screening if you are age 50-80, are a current smoker or former smoker who quit in the past 15 years and have a 20 pack per year smoking history. For example, one pack a day for 20 years or two packs a day for 10 years.

Annual lung cancer screening is recommended for current and former heavy smokers ages 50 to 80. The annual screening involves a low-dose CT scan, which provides better detail of possible lung cancer than a chest X-ray.

“Heavy” smokers are defined as people who smoked a pack of cigarettes every day for 20 years or two packs every day for 10 years. If you quit smoking more than 15 years ago, you should talk to your Ochsner primary care doctor about whether you need screening for lung cancer.

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Beginning at age 45, you should speak with your Ochsner primary care doctor or urologist about the benefits and risks of prostate screening to check for prostate cancer.

If you are Black or have a family history of prostate cancer, talk to your doctor sooner.

Prostate cancer screening usually consists of a blood test that measures baseline prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels.

PSA tends to increase as men age, but high levels of PSA can also be a sign of prostate cancer. Men should discuss the risks and benefits of monitoring PSA and decide on a path that works for them. Men who are Black, have a family history of prostate cancer, or who have known genetic mutations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may want to start screening early. Most men will stop screenings at age 70.

Skin cancer screening is generally recommended for people at increased risk for developing skin cancer.

Not everyone with risk factors develops skin cancer. However, if you do have one or more risk factors, discuss them with your health care provider and get regular skin cancer screenings.

The earlier skin cancer is found, the better the chance of it being treated successfully.

The following factors put you at increased risk for skin cancer:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. Extensive lifetime sun exposure or occasional intense exposure causing a sunburn
  • Tanning bed use
  • Age. The longer you are exposed to the sun over time, the higher your risk of developing skin cancer
  • Having a fair complexion, blonde or red hair, freckles, blue eyes and/or a tendency to sunburn
  • Having 50 or more moles

An annual physical exam with your Ochsner primary care doctor is a good way to monitor changes to any moles or spots that may be concerning.

If you are at high risk for skin cancer, your Ochsner dermatologist can help you determine how frequently you need screenings.

If you have a family history of certain cancers, you should ask your Ochsner health team whether you could benefit from genetic counseling and testing. This testing can determine if you have certain genetic variants that signify you are at a higher risk of developing cancer. Genetic testing can help high-risk patients make better-informed decisions about when to start certain preventive screenings and how frequently to get them.

Ochsner also offers patients at higher risk of cancer access to the Galleri multi-cancer early detection test. This blood test may detect possible signs of over 50 types of cancer. It does not assess your genetic risk of cancer, and it does not replace regular screenings. Insurance will not cover the cost of this test, but some patients may be eligible to receive it for free as part of a clinical trial.

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