You don't have to have symptoms to have cancer. Screening tests can catch cancer early or prevent it from developing. The screening tests below have been proven to save lives. Tell your healthcare provider if you have a family history of cancer. Early or more frequent screening might be recommended.
How Can I Get Cancer Screenings?
If you have health insurance, ask your healthcare provider what screening tests are right for you. Most insurance plans now provide full coverage for preventive services, including cancer screening. Contact your health insurance provider for information about what they cover.
What if I Don't Have Health Insurance?
If you don't have health insurance, there are options for free or low-cost health insurance. The Washington state Medicaid program, called Apple Health, is available to more people than it was in the past. If you enroll in Washington Apple Health, most of your health care costs will be covered at no cost to you. You can apply at any time throughout the year. To apply, go to Washington Healthplanfinder. You can also call 1-855-923-4633 for more information.
If you are not eligible for Apple Health, you may be able to buy a health insurance plan at a reduced cost. The lower your income, the lower your monthly costs. If you pick this option, you must enroll during the Open Enrollment Period. Please visit www.wahealthplanfinder.org or call 1-855-923-4633 for more information.
If you still do not have health insurance, or have trouble paying your out-of-pocket costs, you may be eligible for screenings from the Breast, Cervical and Colon Health Program.
Colon Cancer Screening
- Screening can find precancerous polyps—abnormal growths in the colon or rectum—so that they can be removed before turning into cancer. Screening tests can also find colon cancer early, when treatment works best.
- Men and women should start routine screening at age 50. If everybody age 50 or older had regular screening tests, up to 60 percent of deaths from colon cancer could be prevented.
- If you have a personal or family history of polyps or colon cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about when you should be screened. They may recommend a different schedule for your screening, or different screening options.
- There are multiple types of screening options for colon cancer. Some of these can even be done at home. Talk to your health care provider about what options are available to you.
Breast Cancer Screening
- Mammograms are currently the best way to detect breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.
- Most breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50, and the risk is especially high for women over 60.
- If you have a personal or family history of breast cancer, talk to your healthcare provider about when you should be screened. They may recommend a different schedule for your screening, or different screening options.
Cervical Cancer Screening
- Cervical cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer.
- The Pap test is highly effective at finding cancer early, when the chance of being cured is very high. The Pap test can also find cells before they turn into cancer.
- Since the human papillomavirus (HPV) causes cervical cancer, getting an HPV vaccine while young can prevent cervical cancer.
Other Cancer Screening Tests
- Screening tests for other types of cancer may be available. Talk with your healthcare provider about whether these tests are right for you.
- Be sure to tell your healthcare provider if you have had cancer in the past or if you people in your family have had cancer.