Tests that Detect Cancer Early & Where to Get Screened for Free

Cancer Screening Tests that Save Lives
This page was originally published February 2, 2018 and updated June 6, 2024.

Regular checkups with your doctor and maintaining healthy lifestyle habits are two ways you can help prevent many cancers. Sometimes, though, a diagnosis is completely out of your control. However, screening programs are key to catching it early when effective treatment options and possible cure exist. Here are cancer screening tests that medical experts agree are effective in catching cancer early– or even preventing it!


In research studies, colonoscopies are effective  in both preventing cancer and reducing deaths due to late-stage diagnosis. A colonoscopy is capable of detecting abnormal colon growths known as polyps so they can be removed before developing into cancer. The National Institutes of Health states there are long-reaching benefits of regular testing, “Removing polyps during colonoscopy can not only prevent colorectal cancer, but also reduce deaths from the disease for years.”

The US Preventative Task Force recommends regular colonoscopy screenings between the ages of 50 and 75.

Low-Dose CT Scan

This lung cancer screening has been shown effective at catching lung cancer early in heavy smokers aged 55 to 74 years of age. In one recent clinical trial, mortality rates were reduced 16% because the disease was caught early enough to effectively treat.


A common method for screening for breast cancer, mammograms have reduced breast cancer deaths in women between 50 and 74 years of age.  Experts agree this is an invaluable tool in the fight against breast cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institutes, “Regular high-quality screening mammograms are the most sensitive ways to screen for breast cancer.”

Pap Test

This test detects abnormal cells before they become cancer and letting doctors initiate a targeted treatment to eliminate these cells. This testing reduces deaths from cervical cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends regular testing for women between 21 and 65 years of age. “If it’s found early, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable cancers. In the United States, the cervical cancer death rate declined by more than 50% over the last 30 years. This is thought to be mainly due to the effectiveness of screening with the Pap test.”

Breast MRI

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) believes that mammograms are not enough for patients who carry a mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene and/or family history that places them at a higher risk for breast cancer as well as developing other cancers.

The NCCN recommends, “For a high-risk patient, it is recommended that an annual breast MRI be performed in addition to the woman’s annual mammogram.”

Get Screened

Screening works to prevent cancer, catch it early when it does occur, and reduce deaths from this terrible disease. There are free programs to help with screening costs if you cannot afford them. Check out these resources and find providers near you today.

Free Breast and Cervical Screenings:


Free Colon Cancer Screenings:


Free Prostate Screenings:


Free Professional Care Navigators for Cancer Patients

If you’ve been diagnosed and are having trouble getting the help you need, consider working with a patient navigator who can help you get access to necessary services. The professional services are available at no cost to you. A list of free patient navigators for cancer patients and families in the USA can be found here on our website.

Free professional counseling and support for cancer patients

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  1. I cannot even express how important pre-screening is; it was regular pap smears that caught my mom’s cancer!

    • Hi Lauren! It is wonderful that screening caught your mom’s cancer early! Thank you for sharing your family’s experience!

  2. Such a great help! It is so hard to come across sites that actually give you unbiased information without spamming you with advertisements! Thank you!

    • Thank you, Anna! We are on a mission to get the free resources cancer patients need to make life a bit easier and are happy to hear you’ve got the help you need here.

  3. Like Lauren, my mother had regular screenings and tests done as a precautionary measure simply because her mother was left undiagnosed till it was too late.
    We need this information to be more widely available, kudos to you and your team!

    • Jen, it is really unfortunate your grandmother experienced that but we are heartened to learn your mother didn’t wait on screening. It is truly the key to early diagnosis and cure. We appreciate your visit and your kind words and wish you and your family all the best.

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