“The earlier a cancer is diagnosed, the better the outcome.” That’s what Dr. Jason Dominitz, VA national director of Gastroenterology said. It’s true: Screenings can catch cancer in an earlier stage before you notice symptoms, improving the chance treatment will be successful. VA recommends routine screenings for four cancers: lung, colon and rectal (colorectal), breast and cervical.

Age and certain risk factors, such as a past or current history of smoking and family history, all determine when you qualify for a cancer screening.

Screenings improve the chance treatment will be successful.

Schedule your screening

Delays in screenings mean delays in timely diagnoses. This is why it’s so important to get your screening scheduled with VA. When scheduling, remember the following:

  • Be persistent. Take charge of your health. Schedule your routine screening or primary care appointments by calling your VA clinic or sending a secure message through your My HealtheVet
  • Answer your phone. VA will make several attempts to contact you to schedule your appointments. If you miss a VA call, please call back as soon as possible to prevent delays in your care.
  • Ask about all your options. Don’t want to wait for colonoscopy? Stool tests or fecal immunochemical tests are available for colorectal cancer screening and can be performed in the comfort of your home. Talk to your primary care provider to see if this test is right for you.

Screening during COVID-19

While COVID-19 remains a concern, VA is taking precautions at all VA medical centers to protect you from the virus.

VA also encourages Veterans to get their vaccine as soon as possible. It’s the best way to protect yourself, your family and your community against COVID-19. Learn more about how to get the COVID-19 vaccine through your local VAMC.

To learn more about cancer care at VA, visit cancer.va.gov or email cancer@va.gov.

Important links to more information:

Chats with the Chief SchoomakerChats with the Chief: Dr. Eric Schoomaker, VHA’s Whole Health Advisor on Why VA wants to know what matters to you
Pink ribbon symbolizing breast cancer awareness on doctor's coatBreast cancer awareness: What can you do today to reduce your risk?

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11 Comments

  1. pierre williams November 4, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    Can I get a cancer screening at Jesse brown va?

  2. Patrick H. A. Trainor, AA, BBA, MS October 29, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Pancreatic cancer is called the “silent killer” for good reason. Symptoms are elusive. However, there is now a blood testing regime using genitic anomilies that is available called Grail. Unfortunately, most healthcare entities (probably including the government run VA) either don’t know about it or default to the standard (non)testing methodology because it hasn’t received “official approval.” But, that doesn’t releive them of the responsibility to be inform and test, as well as, inform veterans about the disease and the need for screening and available diagnositics.

    ps. I’m an retired 26 year Navy veteran (former Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman and Lieutenant, Medical Service Corps)

  3. Harris Thayer October 28, 2021 at 12:27 pm

    Harris Thayer asks , What about PSA testing for prostate cancer? There has been no mention so far. C’mon, V.A., get with the current program, will ya?

  4. Bob October 28, 2021 at 10:52 am

    For the first time that I’ve been receiving these emails, I saw something that I was very much interested in – cancer screenings. However, as hard as I tried, I either could not figure out the complicated path to scheduling one, AND when I tried to establish an account, or at least verify if I had one already (DS login), it said it would send an email to my inbox. Not there nor in the spam folder. This was basically about a 30 minute waste of time.

  5. Roland Jacobi October 28, 2021 at 9:55 am

    When will the VA start screening for post vaccine test for immunity to covid ?

    • Zach October 30, 2021 at 11:30 pm

      I had to request for it to be included in my annual blood work.

  6. Thomas Martin October 27, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    What about prostate cancer? Mine was caught early BUT I was told just wait 6 months and then check it again??

    When this was found I stopped taking TRT , now I’m miserable joints and muscles ache can’t sleep and more , so now do I continue to live longer but be miserable or restart my TRT and perhaps not live as long but Not be miserable?

    Would love to hear from you

  7. Boughton Thomas R October 27, 2021 at 10:37 pm

    Many of us are quite curious as to when the VA will be offering our Moderna booster shots

  8. Christopher Ingalls October 27, 2021 at 8:53 pm

    I was told I had to be 55 or older or be coughing up blood before I could get a test for lung cancer. Is this info correct?

    • Angela Criswell November 2, 2021 at 5:22 pm

      There is a newly revised recommendation from the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) where they recommend lung cancer screening by low-dose CT scan (LDCT) for individuals age 50-80 who have a heavy smoking history (20 pack/years or more–so 1 pack/day for 20 years, or 2 packs/day for 10 years…) and who either still currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years. This lung cancer screening should be carried out for individuals who are *not* showing signs or symptoms of lung cancer–so the person who indicated you needed to be “coughing up blood” was gravely mistaken. Anyone who is showing signs or symptoms of lung cancer like this should receive immediate diagnostic testing, as opposed to preventive services cancer screening. If you meet the USPSTF age and smoking history criteria I mentioned, then the article’s advice to “be persistent” is definitely appropriate! Show your healthcare provider the USPSTF Recommendation and tell them they need to refer you for lung cancer screening: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/recommendation/lung-cancer-screening

  9. Kerry Sommers October 27, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    Why aren’t the local Va’s more proactive. It is like pulling teeth to get appointments for these cancers.

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