Cancer Screening and Prevention

What is cancer screening?

Cancer screening tests can find disease in people who have no signs of sickness. It is important to get screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers because screening tests can find these cancers early, when they are most easily treated. In fact, cervical and colorectal screenings can find growths which can be removed before they ever become cancer. Lung cancer screening is also recommended for men and women between the ages of 55 and 80 years who have a history of heavy smoking, and who smoke now or have quit within the last 15 years.

When should I be screened for cancer?

Men and women should talk to their health care providers about which cancer screening tests are right for them and when they should get them.

The United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends getting screened for different cancers at different times depending on your age and family history. Visit the USPSTF website to see the most up to date cancer screening recommendations.

How can I get a FREE cancer screening?

The New York State Department of Health offers FREE breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening to eligible, uninsured and underinsured men and women through Cancer Services Program partnerships in every county and borough in New York State.

To connect to FREE breast, cervical or colorectal cancer screening, diagnostic, treatment and support services in your community, please call 1-866-442-CANCER (1-866-442-2262).

For more information, visit the Cancer Services Program website.

Can I get treatment for cancer if I don't have insurance?

Women and men who are in need of treatment for breast, cervical, colorectal or prostate cancer may be eligible for coverage through the New York State Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program (NYS MCTP). Coverage lasts for the entire treatment period and includes medications.

To learn more about the NYS MCTP, visit:

Can cancer be prevented?

Keeping your body healthy can lower the chance that you will get cancer. Here are some steps you can take to lower your chances of getting cancer:

  • Quit Using Tobacco - Smoking and tobacco use is an addiction. Your health care provider can help you quit for good. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start.
  • Eat healthy - Enjoy a low-fat diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains from breads, cereals, nuts, and beans.
  • Skip alcohol - If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation. The more alcohol a person drinks, the greater his or her chance of getting cancers such as mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, colorectal and breast cancer.
  • Be sun smart - Limit your time in the sun, seek shade, apply broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) sunscreen and cover your skin with clothing, hats and sunglasses.
  • Avoid tanning salons - Using tanning beds in youth increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, by 74 percent. Use of tanning beds also increases the risk of other types of skin cancer.
  • Get moving - Maintaining a healthy weight and getting regular exercise such as walking, gardening, or climbing may help lower your chance of getting colorectal, breast, uterine, prostate, esophagus, kidney and other cancers.
  • Know your family history - Talk with your health care provider if you are concerned about your personal or family history of cancer and decide when to start regular cancer screening and if genetic testing is right for you.
  • Get screened - Be sure to get regular check-ups and talk to your health care provider about cancer screening.
  • Get the HPV vaccine - The HPV vaccine can prevent many of the types of HPV that cause cervical cancer.