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Catch cancer early through screenings

GEHA | May 31, 2023

Early diagnosis means a greater chance of survival, fewer associated problems and lower costs of care.

It doesn’t take much effort to schedule a screening with your doctor, but this simple act may detect breast, cervical or colorectal (colon) cancers early, when treatment is likely to be most successful.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the estimated five-year survival rate for people with colon cancer is 65%, though that rate rises to approximately 90% when the cancer is found while still localized. 

The most reliable way to detect colorectal cancer is a colonoscopy. If a doctor finds a polyp during the procedure, it can be removed immediately. The American Cancer Society recommends that:

  • People aged 45 should start regular screenings.
  • People ages 46–75 should continue with regular screenings.
  • People ages 76–85 should talk with their primary health care provider about whether continuing to get screened is the right option.
  • People 86 and older should consult their doctor for recommended screening timelines.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. The American Cancer Society recommends that:

  • Women ages 40–44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so or have a family history.
  • Women ages 45–54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years or can continue with yearly screening.
  • Screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health.

Cervical cancer starts in cells that line the cervix, the lower end of the uterus, and may be found with two screening tests. The Pap test looks for precancerous cell changes that might become cervical cancer if not treated. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus that causes most cases of cervical cancer.

The American Cancer Society recommends that:

  • Women aged 21 should get their first cervical cancer screening.
  • Women ages 25–65 should get a primary HPV test done every five years. If a primary HPV test is not available, a Pap test every three years is still a good option.
  • Women 65 and older should consult their doctor for recommended screening timelines.

Regular cancer screenings can help find problems before they start or early when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right screenings, you are taking steps that help your chances for living a longer, healthier life.

GEHA covers these screenings at 100% when the member is of qualifying age and uses an in-network physician or facility. Find a provider near you so you can schedule your screenings today.

“American Cancer Society guidelines for the early detection of cancer.”, American Cancer Society, 14 March 2022.
"What Should I Know About Screening?", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 14 December, 2022.
“Tests to Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps.” National Cancer Institute, 2 August, 2021.

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