New cancer screening guidelines

Cancer Screening Guidelines by Age:

The following screening guidelines apply to healthy women with no unusual risk factors or symptoms.

Breast Cancer
For women in their 20s, 30s and 40s

  • Those with a family history of cancer may be at a higher risk of developing cancer. Consider genetic profiling and counseling to assess potential risks and identify health and lifestyle changes that may decrease risk.

  • According to the American Cancer Society, a clinical breast exam is recommended as part of a periodic health exam, about every three years.

  • An increased risk of breast cancer can be inherited from either parent. Having a close blood relative such as a mother or sister who has had ovarian or breast cancer can increase your risk. City of Hope provides genetic testing for those with a family history of a genetic condition for cancer.
For women in their 40s and 50s
  • Experts at City of Hope recommend a monthly breast self-exam is recommended to detect lumps and other signs of breast cancer.

  • According to the American Cancer Society, women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram by a health professional every year, and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.
Ovarian Cancer
For women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s
  • During an annual pelvic exam, the doctor will check the size and shape of the ovaries, according to the American Cancer Society.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends women become familiar with their bodies and pay attention to any changes that do not feel or are not considered normal.

  • The American Cancer Society suggests women ask their physician during an annual health examination about an ovarian cancer related checkup.
Cervical Cancer
For women in their 20s
  • The American Cancer Society recommends cervical cancer screenings to begin approximately three years after women become sexually active, but no later than 21 years of age. Screenings should be done every year.

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the HPV vaccine for prevention of human papillomaviruses, an infection or group of viruses that can infect the cervix and is the main risk factor for cervical cancer. HPV is recommended for girls and women up to age 26 who have not yet been vaccinated or completed the vaccine series.
For women in their 30s
  • According to the American Cancer Society, beginning at age 30, many women who have had three normal test results in a row may get the Pap test every two to three years, or every three years with an HPV DNA test plus cervical cytology. The Pap test (or Pap smear) looks for precancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately. The HPV test looks for the virus that can cause these cell changes.
For women in their 40s
  • City of Hope experts suggest an annual pap smear to detect cervical cancer. Cancer of the cervix occurs most often in women over the age of 40.

  • Experts at the American Cancer Society recommend the first preventive measure to take for cervical cancer is to find and treat precancers before they become cancer by testing or screening. The most common test is a Pap smear, where if a precancer was found and treated, it can stop cervical cancer before it really starts.
For women in their 50s
  • Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention emphasize the importance of knowing your body and paying attention to any changes in your body that do not feel or are not considered normal.

  • According to the American Cancer Society, an annual pap smear is recommended to detect cervical cancer.
Endometrial Cancer
For women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s
  • Experts at the American Cancer Society recommend an annual pelvic exam, including the Pap test.

  • The American Cancer Society suggests staying at a healthy weight and managing diabetes (if you have this disease) may help reduce cancer risk.

  • A good diet and exercise can also lower endometrial cancer risk. Women who exercise every day have a lower risk than women who don't exercise.
Skin Cancer
For women in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s
  • Avoid sun exposure between 10 am and 4 pm, when the sun's ultraviolet radiation is most intense.

  • Always apply sunscreen with a sun protector factor (SPF) of 15 or higher between going outdoors. When working outdoors, wear long sleeves, a hat and gloves. Reapply sunscreen throughout the day.

  • Keep infants out of the sun and protect children at all times. Apply SPF 15 or higher to infants over six months.

  • Avoid tanning booths. There is no "safe" tan that involves ultraviolet light exposure.

  • Ask your doctor to do mole checks during your regular physicals.
Colon Cancer
For women in their 50s
  • The recommended screening for colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50
About Dr. Joanne Mortimer:

In her second year at Loyola Medical School, Dr. Joanne Mortimer entered an oncology rotation that changed her path. Inspired to pursue medicine by a pediatrician in her family, she went to medical school figuring she'd be a family doctor. But the strength and courage of the breast cancer patients she encountered during her medical school rotation inspired her toward something different.

Today, Dr. Mortimer, M.D., F.A.C.P., is the Vice Chair for Medical Oncology at City of Hope, a National Cancer Institute designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. Dr. Mortimer, also the Associate Director for Affiliate Programs and the Administrative Director of Phase 1 Programs, has participated in clinical trials in breast cancer for over 25 years.

Her research has focused on assessing the effects of systemic therapies on cancer and normal tissues. Now studying the impact of toxicity on breast cancer disease outcome and quality of life, she and her colleagues in 2007 reported a favorable outcome for women treated with tamoxifen who experience hot flashes.

As an oncologist with the women's cancer program at City of Hope, much of her work aims to uncover the role both natural and treatment-related hormones play in normal and tumor cells, so she can predict how the hormones will affect therapy. She also seeks to understand the unique challenges faced by breast cancer survivors so their long-term needs can be met.

Dr. Mortimer received her medical degree from the Stritch College of Medicine at Loyola University and completed her internal medicine residency and an oncology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

Previously, Dr. Mortimer was the Deputy Director of Medical Oncology at the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, medical director of the Sentara Cancer Institute, head of hematology and medical oncology and professor of internal medicine at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, director of clinical oncology and professor of medicine at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., associate of clinical research at the Fred Hutchison Cancer Center in Seattle and assistant professor at the University of Washington's School of Medicine.

Dr. Mortimer is currently an advisor for the Oncologic Drug Advisory Committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

About JoAnne Aldrich:

Born in North Carolina and raised in California, Joanne Aldrich, 63, is a mother and nine-year ovarian cancer survivor. In June 2001, during a routine hysterectomy, the surgeon discovered that one ovary was attached to her colon. So he went against all medical practices and did not perform a colostomy.

Following the surgery, she made an appointment with an oncologist to discuss her treatment options. She had four months of chemotherapy, which she completed in November 2001.

Joanne has no history of cancer in her family. So sharing the news with her parents in particular was very difficult. But with the endless support, strength and courage from her friends and family, Joanne is now a nine-year ovarian cancer survivor.

This experience has taught Joanne to appreciate every single moment in life. She has been inspired to help other cancer patients learn how to cope better with the emotional rollercoaster.

She now actively participates in a Wellness Community Group, where she provides nutritional counseling and emotional support for other cancer patients.

This year, she is participating in City of Hope's San Francisco Walk for Hope on Saturday, June 5 with a team of women to help raise awareness and support for groundbreaking cancer research and treatment for all women's cancers at City of Hope.

About City of Hope:

Ranked as one of "America's Best Hospitals" in cancer and urology by U.S.News & World Report, City of Hope is recognized worldwide for its compassionate patient care, innovative science and translational research, which rapidly turns laboratory breakthroughs into promising new therapies

Three of the top cancer fighting drugs including Rituxan, Avastin, and Erbitux were developed based on science discovered at City of Hope.

About Walk for Hope:

Walk for Hope is a national series of eight fundraising walks that benefit the women's cancer research, treatment and educational programs at City of Hope. Walk for Hope is not just a Walk, it is a movement.

It is a movement to come together to end all women's cancers once and for all. By coming together and using our resources to fundraise for this great cause, we can make the dream of one day living in a cancer-free world more of a reality.

Not just a reality for all women, but for the spouses, brothers, sons, and friends that are all affected by these terrible cancers. We're all in. Are you?

Join us on Saturday, June 5 at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco for a 5k Walk/ Fun Run with giveaways and activities for the entire family. (dogs, too!)

For more information, visit

You can also find Women's Cancers, Women's Cures on Facebook and follow them on Twitter

Copyright © 2023 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.