Cancer Screening


Screening is an important tool that can help in the early detection of some types of cancer. Screening is of special importance for survivors, who may be at increased risk for certain types of cancer. This page is designed to help survivors understand the role screening can play in their ongoing recovery.

Visit the links below to learn more about screening procedures, risk groups, and Memorial Sloan Kettering’s recommended screening guidelines, divided into the following cancer types: breast, cervical, colorectal, head and neck, ovarian, prostate, and skin.

  • Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
    In 2008, approximately 184,450 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in the US, with approximately 41,000 individuals dying from the disease. The average American woman has a one in seven chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime.
  • Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines
    The incidence of cervical cancer has dramatically decreased since the introduction of widespread screening by a vaginal smear test commonly known as the “Pap smear.” Cervical cancer usually grows slowly over many years. Detection of cervical cancer in its earliest stages is essential and lifesaving.
  • Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
    Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in the US. It is estimated that in 2008 there will be approximately 149,000 new cases of colorectal cancer and about 50,000 deaths from the disease. The average American has approximately a six percent chance of developing colorectal cancer within his or her lifetime.
  • Head and Neck Cancer Screening Guidelines
    The term “head and neck cancer” encompasses a wide range of tumors that occur in several areas of the head and neck region, including the nasal passages, sinuses, mouth, throat, larynx (voice box), swallowing passages, salivary glands, and the thyroid gland. Our doctors recommend a yearly physical examination of the head and neck and oropharynx conducted by their primary care physician, as well as a yearly routine dental evaluation.
  • Ovarian Cancer Screening Guidelines
    Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women and the most common cause of gynecologic cancer deaths. Approximately one in 70 women will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.
  • Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines
    More than 186,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in the US in 2008, making it the most commonly diagnosed invasive cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among American men, with approximately 29,000 deaths. Choosing to pursue early detection screening for prostate cancer is a complex decision.
  • Skin Cancer Screening Guidelines
    Each year more than a million people in the United States are diagnosed with the most common forms of skin cancer — basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma — which together are known as non-melanoma skin cancers. Fortunately there are ways to detect most non-melanoma skin cancers early, when they are curable.