An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s the idea behind Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a cancer survivor, and nearly a dozen governors across the country signing a proclamation declaring this first week of December to be Cancer Screen Week, a public health initiative designed to increase awareness about cancer screening and its potentially life-saving benefits.

This year marks the first Cancer Screen Week — a joint effort by Genentech, the American Cancer Society, Stand Up to Cancer and Rally Health — and it takes place Dec. 4-8, and the first week of every December thereafter.


The hope is to get people to pledge to get their recommended cancer screenings and share that pledge with others by sharing it on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, and encouraging friends and family to get screened or at least make an appointment to talk to their doctor about recommended screenings.

Getting recommended screenings, in combination with other healthy behaviors like quitting smoking, losing weight and increasing physical activity, reduces the risk of developing and dying from cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates nearly 600,000 Americans will die from cancer in 2017.

Early detection of certain cancers improve the ability of those cancers to be treated successfully, saving lives. Screening increases the likelihood of early detection before symptoms of a particular disease may be present.

According to the American Cancer Society, early detection through screening reduces mortality from colon, rectum, breast, uterine cervix and lung cancers. Furthermore, screening for colorectal and cervical cancers can prevent these cancers by identifying precancerous lesions that can be removed.

What screening tests should you get? While it’s best to talk with your doctor first, the ACS recommends the following:

  • Starting at age 50, both men and women should get a colonoscopy to look for polyps and colon and rectal cancer.
  • Women age 45 to 54 should get an annual breast cancer screening with mammograms.
  • Women should be screened for cervical cancer with a Pap test starting at age 21.
  • Smokers aged 55 to 74 who are in otherwise good health who have smoked the equivalent of a pack a day for 30 years should be screened for lung cancer.
  • Men, starting at age 50, should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of testing for prostate cancer.

Again, these are only guidelines and may vary depending on your medical and family history.

To take the Cancer Screen Week pledge, or to get more information about cancer screening tests, visit www.GetScreenedNow.org. There, you can sign-up for the pledge and get a list of screenings and preventative care that might be right for you.

If nothing else, use Cancer Screen Week as a reminder to schedule appointment to talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of being screened, and encourage family or friends to do that same.