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Preventative Screenings for Cancer Save Lives-Get Screened!

Date: 05/12/21

When you go to the doctor for a cancer screening, you are checking your body for cancer before you have symptoms. Getting screening tests for cervical and colorectal cancers regularly gives you a chance to detect these cancers early on when treatment is likely to work best.

As a Louisiana Healthcare Connections member, all of your screenings are covered and come at no cost to you. Not to mention, you can earn My Health Pays™ rewards when you complete healthy activities like your screenings!

Cervical Cancer

No one should ever die from cervical cancer, which is why it’s important for women between the ages of 21 and 64 to have a cervical cancer screening each year. Cervical cancer can be easier to treat when it is found early.

How are the cervical cancer screenings done?

There are two screening tests for cervical cancer: a pap test and an HPV test. Both tests can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic. Talk to your doctor about which testing option is right for you.

Your doctor will perform a Pap test. This procedure helps find changes in the cervix that may lead to cancer. The doctor will take a small sample of cells from the cervix and send it to a lab for testing. During the Pap test, the doctor will use a plastic or metal instrument, called a speculum, to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor examine the vagina and the cervix. This also helps them collect the sample of cells they send to a laboratory.

A Pap test takes only a few minutes and is a safe procedure. It causes little to no discomfort. Your doctor can answer any questions you might have about the Pap test and tell you how to prepare for it.

An HPV test is done similarly, but the cells are tested for HPV. If you are getting a Pap test, the cells will be checked to see if they look normal.

You should start getting Pap tests at age 21. If your results are normal, your chance of getting cervical cancer in the next few years is very low. That’s why your doctor may tell you that you can wait three years until your next test. But remember, you should still go to the doctor regularly for a checkup to make sure you’re otherwise healthy.

Colorectal (Colon) Cancer

According to Louisiana Cancer Prevention (LCP), Louisiana has the fourth highest death rate from colorectal cancer in the nation. Plus, our state’s high rates of tobacco use and obesity— two big risk factors—result in more colorectal cancer. When it is caught early, colorectal cancer is almost always survivable. Treatment also works better if the disease is found early on. That’s why it’s important for adults between the ages of 50 and 75 to get regular screenings.

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps, which are abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can help find these abnormal growths so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

How are the colorectal cancer screenings done?

There are several colorectal cancer screening strategies, including stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and CT colonography, also known as a virtual colonoscopy.

Screening Test

How It Works

How Often

Stool Tests

You will receive a test kit from your healthcare provider. At home, you use a stick or brush to obtain a small amount of stool. You return the test kit to your doctor or a lab. The sample is checked for the presence of blood. Blood in your stool can be a sign of colorectal cancer.

Once a year

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy

The doctor puts a short, thin, flexible, lighted tube into your rectum. This helps the doctor check for abnormal growths or cancer. In this test the doctor is only checking inside the rectum and lower third of the colon.

Every 5 years


Similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the doctor checks inside the rectum and the entire colon. The doctor can find and remove most polyps and some cancers during a colonoscopy. This is also the follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests.

Every 10 years

CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

The doctor analyzes X-rays and images of the entire colon, which are displayed on a computer screen, to look for signs of cancer.

Every 5 years

African Americans and Cajuns are more susceptible to developing colorectal cancer, according to LCP. It is important to know our risk factors and arm ourselves against them.

If you think you may be at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, talk with your doctor.

Here are a few good questions to ask:

  • When should I begin screening?
  • What screening test is best for me?
  • How often will I need to be tested?