The latest advice from the major medical groups for routine screening — primarily for people who don't have a family history of a particular cancer or other risk factors:
• U.S. Preventive Services Task Force: Mammograms every two years for women ages 50 to 74, after 75 the risks and benefits unknown; recommends against self-exam; value of exams by doctors unknown.
• Task Force: Start Pap tests within three years of sexual activity or by age 21; at least every three years, stop after 65 if negative tests and no high risk; discontinue after hysterectomy.
• Cancer Society: No routine testing recommended; doctors should discuss benefits and limitations, and offer screening — a physical exam and blood test for a substance called PSA — to men beginning at age 50, with at least a 10-year life expectancy.
• Task Force: No recommendation for or against screening for men under 75; men over 75 should not be screened.
• Task force: Screen from age 50 to 75 with one of three tests: colonoscopy every 10 years; a sigmoidoscopy every five years, combined with a stool blood test every three years; a stool blood test every year.
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