Screening & Diagnosis

A mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening increases the chances our Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute team can detect certain cancers early, often before you have symptoms. This gives you the best chance of treating the disease before it spreads.

Your provider may suggest:

  • Screening tests such as a mammogram that looks for breast cancer or a colonoscopy to find colon cancer
  • Diagnostic tests, medical exams and self-exams

What Screening Do You Need?

Your provider helps you decide the most appropriate screening(s) based on:

  • Your age, health and gender
  • Risk factors like family history, notably a close relative with cancer, and habits such as smoking

If you’re considering a screening test, talk with your provider about the disease, what the test is like, the risks and benefits and the potential cost. You may also want to ask what further testing and follow-up will be needed if a screening test reveals a possible problem.

Ask your provider about the limits of the test and treatment.

For example, ask:

  • How likely is it that the test could miss a disease (false negative), show something that looks like a disease but isn’t (false positive) or find a disease that will never cause a problem?
  • Will I need someone to accompany me?
  • Will I need transportation?

Available Screenings:

Breast Cancer: Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat. A mammogram is a breast X-ray that uncovers tumors too small for you or your doctor to feel.

Cervical Cancer: The Pap (short for Papanicolaou) test finds abnormal cells in the cervix that might turn into cancer. The HPV test looks for the human papillomavirus virus, which can cause these cell changes. Pap tests find cervical cancer early, when the chance of being cured is high.

Colorectal (Colon) Cancer: Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Colonoscopy is the screening test to find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

Lung Cancer: If you have smoked for a long time, were a heavy smoker and are age 55 to 80, consider lung cancer screening using a low-dose CT scan. Research shows that such screening can reduce the risk of death from lung cancer for people at high risk.

Prostate Cancer: A prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test measures the level of PSA, a substance made by the prostate. Levels of PSA in the blood can be higher in men with prostate cancer, although it also can be elevated in other conditions affecting the prostate.

Skin Cancer: A skin cancer-screening exam is the best way to catch melanoma and other skin cancers early, when they’re easiest to treat. These can be done by your primary care provider, a dermatologist or through self-exam.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance

We offer the latest treatments through our ongoing membership in the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center Alliance, which gives you access to the latest standards of care and clinical trials.

The MSK Alliance

Support at the Cancer Institute

The Cancer Institute offers whatever you and your family need on your journey, whether it’s access to an oncology social worker, a nurse navigator to coordinate your care or the support of our Patient and Family Resource Center.


Cancer Screening & Diagnosis

Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute