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Cancer and Preventive Screenings

Learn more about the different types and recommendations for screenings for cancer and other diseases. 

Cancer and Preventive Screenings

Breast Cancer Screenings

Early detection is the best prevention when it comes to breast cancer. Screening tests can find cancer in its early stages, when the disease is more treatable. Screenings also have been shown to lower your risk of dying from breast cancer. For more information about breast cancer screenings, visit

Who should be screened for breast cancer?

Many professional medical groups, including the American Cancer Society, recommend that women at average risk should begin yearly mammograms at age 40.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may be at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Some women with first-degree relatives – mother, sister or daughter – who developed breast cancer may want to be screened earlier, depending on when their family member was diagnosed with the disease.

Women ages 25-39: See your primary care provider or OB/GYN for your breast cancer risk assessment and breast exam every 1 to 3 years.

Women ages 40 and over: Get your annual breast cancer risk assessment, breast exam and mammogram.

Talk to your healthcare provider about breast cancer screening recommendations.


A mammogram – a low-dose X-ray used to get pictures of your breast tissue – is a screening tool used to check for breast cancer. The amount of radiation exposure during this procedure is less than that of a standard chest X-ray.

A radiologist will review the images for abnormalities that could be signs of breast cancer.

The Phelps Health Comprehensive Breast Center offers 3D mammography, which takes multiple images of your breast tissue in different dimensions. A 3D image of your breast is then re-created. 3D mammograms have about a 30% to 40% higher cancer detection rate compared to 2D mammograms.

A mammogram can detect breast cancer up to 2 years before you would ever be able to feel a lump.

What is the cost of breast cancer screening?

Most insurance plans and Medicare cover the costs of mammograms for those who are eligible. 

Each October, Phelps Health offers 50 free mammograms for uninsured women. Call Centralized Scheduling at (573) 458-7737 to see if you qualify.

The Phelps Health Foundation also can help patients without necessary financial resources get a mammogram.

Show Me Healthy Women is another program that offers free breast and cervical cancer screening for Missouri women who meet certain eligibility requirements and do not have insurance to cover recommended screenings.

Colon Cancer Screenings

Colon cancer, or colorectal cancer, is one of the most preventable cancers. The disease is treatable, and sometimes curable, when caught in early stages. The death rate from colon cancer has been declining for the last few decades, thanks to screenings and better treatments.

Your healthcare provider can help you decide what options may be best for you, based on your age, risk factors, overall health and personal preferences. For more information about colon cancer screenings, visit

Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?

If you are at average risk of colorectal cancer, you should start testing at age 45 and continue through age 75.

After age 75, the decision to continue screening should be personalized.

If you are at high risk for developing colorectal cancer (have a personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps), talk to your healthcare provider about screening recommendations.

Colonoscopies and stool-based tests can be used to screen patients for colon cancer.


A colonoscopy is a procedure used to look inside your colon (large intestine) and rectum for abnormal growths called polyps. With sedation, you should not feel pain during the procedure.

Your doctor can remove and take samples of any polyps found. The samples are then tested to see if they are cancerous or not.

In general, a colonoscopy every 10 years is recommended for adults, beginning at age 45.

Stool-Based Tests

A stool-based FIT (fecal immunochemical test) checks for blood in your stool, which can be an early sign of cancer. Stool DNA tests also can look for altered DNA in your stool.

These tests can be done at home. The samples are collected and then sent to your doctor’s office or lab to check for signs of cancer.

If these tests are positive, you may need to follow up with a colonoscopy.

A stool FIT should be done once a year, and stool DNA tests should be done every 1 to 3 years.

Lung Cancer Screenings

Lung cancer screening is a preventive tool to look for signs of lung cancer in high-risk patients. Lung cancer screenings can find concerns before you have symptoms and increase the likelihood of catching lung cancer in its earlier and more treatable stages.

Watch a video about lung cancer screening.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the US. More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. Talk to your doctor to see if an annual lung cancer screening is recommended for you. For more information about lung cancer screenings, visit

Who is eligible for lung cancer screening?

You are eligible for lung cancer screening using a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, or low-dose CT scan, if you meet the following criteria:

Ages 50-80

Minimum 20 pack-years smoking history (To calculate pack-years, multiply the number of cigarette packs you smoked per day by the number of years you have smoked. For example: If you smoked one pack of cigarettes per day for 20 years, you would have a smoking history of 20 pack-years.)

Current smoker or former smoker who quit less than 15 years ago

No symptoms of lung cancer

Participated in a shared decision-making visit with your healthcare provider

Prior counseling on quitting smoking, if applicable

What is the cost of lung cancer screening?

Medicare and many private insurance companies currently cover the costs of lung cancer screening for eligible patients. Patients should check with their insurance companies if they have questions about their coverage. Patients also can talk to their healthcare provider about the costs of self-pay for lung cancer screening.

​​​​​​​What are the benefits of lung cancer screening?

Yearly LDCT scans are the only screening test shown to lower the chance of death from lung cancer, according to several studies.

Scans from LDCT may reveal abnormalities that could be lung cancer or other health issues.

Screening also may provide smokers with motivation to quit.

​​​​​​​What is a low-dose CT scan?

The low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, or low-dose CT scan, takes pictures of your lungs, and a radiologist scans the images for abnormalities or nodules – spots on your lungs. The scan takes about a minute and no needles or contrast dyes are used. LDCT scans use less amounts of radiation compared to other CT imaging.

​​​​​​​How will I get my results?

You will be contacted via MyChart, phone call or mail – usually within 4 business days of your scan being read. If the results are negative, you will return in a year for another scan as long as you are still eligible. If the results are positive, you and your provider will discuss the next best steps.

Prostate Cancer Screenings

Prostate cancer typically affects older men, usually those ages 65 and older. Men who have a family history of prostate cancer also have a higher risk. About one in eight men will get prostate cancer in his lifetime.

Screening for prostate cancer can help find the disease earlier, when it’s more treatable. For more information about prostate cancer screenings, visit

When should men be screened for prostate cancer and how often?

Starting at age 40, men at extremely high risk of prostate cancer (men who have more than one first-degree relative – father, brother or son – who had prostate cancer at an early age) should talk to their doctor about being screened.

Starting at age 45, men at high risk of prostate cancer (African Americans or men who have a first-degree relative who was diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age) should talk to their doctor about being screened.

Starting at age 50, men at average risk of prostate cancer should talk to their doctor about being screened.

A man’s overall health, not age alone, is important when making decisions about prostate cancer screenings.

​​​​​​​What does screening for prostate cancer involve?

Screening for prostate cancer begins with a digital rectal exam and a test that measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen, or PSA protein, in the blood. An elevated PSA could mean that the person has prostate cancer or other problems related to the prostate.

Well-Child Visits

Even if your child is feeling healthy, well-child visits are important for helping them stay well. These comprehensive appointments typically include a full checkup and focus on ways to develop lifelong healthy habits. These exams also can help identify health or developmental problems early, when they are easier to treat.

Parents should make sure their child is caught up on missed well-child visits and recommended vaccines. Contact the Phelps Health Pediatrics Clinic at (573) 426-3225 or a family medicine provider to schedule a visit today.

What does a well-child visit include?

Age-appropriate vaccines to prevent diseases

Education and guidance to help you make informed health decisions for your child

Hearing and vision screenings

Physical and mental health assessments

Physical exam

How often should children have a well-child visit?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the following schedule for well-child visits:

First week visit (3-5 days old)

2 weeks old

1 month old

2 months old

4 months old

6 months old

9 months old

1 year old

15 months old

18 months old

2 years old

2.5 years old (30 months)

3 years

4-18 years: A well-child visit is recommended once per year

What does a physical exam involve?

A physical exam is usually a part of a well-child visit. Your child’s doctor or nurse may check or perform the following:

Check heart, lung and stomach sounds

Look in your child’s eyes, ears, nose and mouth

Measure your child’s height and weight (and head circumference, or from the middle of the forehead to the back of the head, in younger children)

Take your child’s temperature

What should you, as parents, discuss at these visits?

A well-child exam is a good time to discuss any of the following topics:

Behavioral health

Diet and nutrition advice

Growth and development


Physical activity

Recommended screenings

Recommended vaccines

How much does a well-child visit cost?

Many insurance providers cover the costs of well-child visits. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

If you need help with enrolling in health insurance, contact Phelps Health’s EnrollU team.

You also can estimate your healthcare costs with the MyChart price estimates.

Well-Woman Visits

Even if you are feeling healthy, well-woman visits are important for helping you stay well. You should have these types of exams with your women’s health provider once a year, starting at age 21. These comprehensive appointments typically include a full checkup and focus on preventive care for women.

Your well-woman visit is different than your annual physical. Especially as you get older, you should see your primary care provider (PCP) to evaluate your overall wellness. Please note: Most insurance providers cover one wellness visit and one Pap test per year. You may want to ask your insurance provider if you’ll have additional costs if you see both your women’s health provider and PCP for a wellness visit in the same year.

Contact Phelps Health Women’s Health and Maternity Services at (573) 426-2229 to schedule your well-woman visit today.

What is a well-woman visit?

Your well-woman visit may include the following:

Education and guidance to help you make informed health decisions

Physical exam

Screening tests to check for diseases

Vaccines to prevent diseases

What should you expect during a well-woman visit?

At your appointment, your healthcare provider or nurse may ask you about the following topics:



Personal and family medical history

Physical activity

Sexual activity

Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs

What does a physical exam involve?

A physical exam is usually a part of a well-woman visit. Your healthcare provider or nurse may check or perform the following:

Check your temperature and blood pressure

Measure your height and weight

Perform a breast exam (to check for lumps or other changes)

Perform a pelvic exam (to check for any signs of disease in your reproductive system)

What health goals should you discuss at these visits?

Your well-woman exam is a good time to discuss health goals with your care team. You may want to talk about the following topics:

Behavioral health (managing stress, depression, etc.)

Birth control


Menstrual cycle

Pregnancy or fertility

Recommended screenings (cervical cancer, breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, etc.)

Recommended vaccines (human papillomavirus or HPV, flu, etc.)

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Does a well-woman visit include a Pap smear?

Women ages 21 to 65 should receive a Pap test, or Pap smear, every 3 years. A pelvic exam can be done with or without a Pap test. Alternatively, women ages 30 to 65 can receive a Pap test every 3 years, HPV testing and Pap test every 5 years, or HPV testing alone every 5 years.

Your doctor or nurse may recommend getting a Pap test more often based on your medical history. If you have had a hysterectomy (uterus removed), talk to your doctor about screening for cervical cancer.

How much does a well-woman visit cost?

Many insurance providers cover the costs of well-woman visits. Check with your insurance company to learn more.

If you need help with enrolling in health insurance, contact Phelps Health’s EnrollU team.

You also can estimate your healthcare costs with the MyChart price estimates.