Every day, cells in your body grow and replace themselves. Most of the time, this happens in a healthy way. But, sometimes, cells grow out of control and harmful tumors form. This is cancer. The good news is cancers maybe easier to treat when found early with a screening, when it is small and not spread in the body. A screening is a test aimed at finding the disease before you can see or feel it.

The best-known defenses against cancer are:
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • regular, moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes 5 times a week
  • not smoking
  • early detection and screening (A screening test is helpful to find cancer before one can see it or feel it.)
Latinos are among groups with higher risk risks for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers. In fact, cancer is the leading cause of death for Latinos. It's more important than ever to learn about your family's cancer history:
  • who had it?
  • what type of cancer?
  • how old were they?
  • what happened to them?
Knowing this will allow you and your doctor to make a screening plan that’s right for you. Learn more about protecting your health from:
  • Colorectal (Colon or Rectum) Cancer

    Everyone is at risk for colorectal (colon or rectum) cancer. The risk increases with age. Unhealthy diet (high in meats and animal fats while low in fruits and vegetables) and obesity may increase Latinos’ risk of getting and dying from colon cancer. Also, genes and family habits may play a role in risk and survival.

    A screening colonoscopy is one of the best ways to detect colon cancer. Colorectal cancer diagnosed at early stages can be treated and often cured. In fact, most colorectal cancer cases and deaths are preventable by removing the pre-cancer polyps (grape-like growths) before they become cancer. That is why screening is so important. Start by talking with your doctor about your family history of colon and rectal cancers and find our when you should get screened and what type of colon cancer screening is best for you.

  • Breast Cancer

    Women and men are at risk for breast cancer, but breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among Latina women. Breast size doesn’t matter.

    The risk increases with age. A mammogram screening (an X ray of the breasts) is one of the best ways to detect breast cancer. Early detection is a good way to take control of your health.
  • Cervical Cancer

    Latino women are 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 20 percent more likely to die from cervical cancer, as compared to non-Hispanic white women. There are two likely reasons for the difference in survival. Latino women are:
    • Less likely to get screened for cervical cancer
    • More like to delay care which may result in being diagnosed with more advanced cancer
    HPV Vaccine and screening are the best ways to defend against and detect cervical cancer. The HPV vaccine protects against cancers caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Most people with HPV never develop symptoms or health problems. But, sometimes, HPV infections can cause certain cancers, including cervical cancer and other diseases.

    The vaccine does not protect against all HPV types — so it will not prevent all cases of cervical cancer related to HPV, or cervical cancers that are not HPV-related. So, it is important for women to also continue getting screened for cervical cancer.

  • Prostate Cancer

    Prostate cancer is the most diagnosed cancer among Latino men. The risk increases with age and there is increasing evidence that obesity maybe associated with an increased risk of aggressive disease. Men should talk about the risks and benefits of these prostate cancer screening tests with their doctor. Early detection is a good way to take control of your health.

Get regular cancer screenings. If your doctor doesn’t talk to you about cancer screening, be sure to ask! 

Screening recommendations for prostate cancer: If you are aged 55 to 69 years, talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening. An informed decision should be made with your doctor about whether being screened for prostate cancer is right for you. (Reference: US Preventive Services Task Force)

Screening recommendations for cervical cancer: If you are age 21 to 29, get a Pap test every three years.

If you are age 30 to 65+, get a Pap test every three years or HPV testing alone or in combination with Pap test (co-testing) every five years. (References: American College of Obstetricians and US Preventive Services Task Force)

Screening recommendations for breast cancer:  If you are age 40 to 65+, get a mammogram each year.  From ages 50 to 74, talk with your doctor about screening every 2 years.  If your doctor doesn’t talk to you about a mammogram, ask him or her. (Reference: American Cancer Society)

Screening recommendations for colorectal cancer: If you are age 45 to 75, get screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor may suggest any one of these test options:

Direct visualization tests:
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT colonography
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Stool-based tests:
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)
  • Multi-targeted stool DNA test (FIT-DNA)
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  • "I don’t have a doctor. I don’t know where to go."

    There are many online tools to help you find a nearby doctor or clinic that can screen for cancer.
    • Most health insurance plans feature a “Find a Doctor” section on their website. Visit your insurance provider’s website to locate a doctor in your area.
    • National Cancer Institute (1-800-4-CANCER)
    • American Cancer Society (1-800-227-2345)
    For Women:
  • "I don't have time to get screened."

    Finding time can be hard. But making time to take care of your health is very important. A mammogram test itself usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes, but you may be at the clinic for your appointment for longer. To get a better idea of time, ask how long it will take when you make your appointment.
  • "I'm not sure I can get to an appointment."

    Getting to your appointment can be hard, but don’t let this stop you. Check your local transit authority for bus or train schedules. Mobile apps like Uber and Lyft can provide door-to-door service to and from your appointment for much less than a taxi. Or reach out for help! You may be able to get a ride from a friend or family member.

    You may also be able to get help with gas costs if you have a car or have a friend or a neighbor who can take you. The NEMT program must approve this before your appointment. Benefits and program types vary by location.
  • "I'm worried I can't afford a mammogram."

    Mammograms have been covered by insurance since 2010 (when the Affordable Care Act passed). Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get your mammogram for free. You can find out by checking with your health plan or doctor. For low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women, there are other options:
  • "I'm scared it will hurt."

    Mammograms may be uncomfortable for some women for a short time because they press down on the breasts. Patients who are sensitive or worried about pain may want to schedule their mammogram a week after their menstrual period when the breasts are less tender.
  • "I don't want to know if something is wrong."

    Waiting for mammogram results can be stressful and weigh heavily on your mind. Talk with your friends, family, or doctor if you are very worried. Ask for support. The National Breast Cancer Foundation and other websites offer helpful tips for what to do when waiting for results. 
  • "I need help quitting smoking."

    You can find many free smoking cessation resources on the web like or WebMD's Smoking Cessation Health Center