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Cancer Screening and Diagnosis


Screening for cancer is important because it can help doctors find and treat several types of cancer early. Early detection is important because when cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat. Several screening tests have been shown to detect cancer early and reduce the chance of dying from that disease.

Breast cancer screening

All women ages 50 -74 should be screened. Women younger than 50 and older than 74 may also benefit from screening, particularly if they are high risk. Talk to your doctor about your risk of breast cancer. Together you can decide if a mammogram is right for you.

Cervical cancer screening

All women should begin cervical testing (screening) at age 21. Cervical cancer screening includes the Pap test and, for women aged 30 years and older, an HPV test.

Screening for cervical cancer is done using the Pap test that looks for pre-cancers, cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if they are not treated appropriately.

Colorectal (Colon) cancer screening

The American Cancer Society and The American College of Gastroenterology recommend that colon and rectal cancer screenings begin at age 50 in average risk patients. They also recommend that this screening be repeated every 10 years (more often after abnormal findings). Talk to your doctor about your risk of colorectal cancer and decide what screening is best for you.

Lung cancer screening

Our lung cancer screening program provides low-dose CT screening for lung cancer for people ages 55 to 75 who are current or former smokers with a smoking history of 30 pack-years (e.g., one pack a day for 30 years, two packs a day for 15 years). You will need a referral from your doctor to participate in the low-dose lung CT screening program. Ask your doctor or call our lung cancer navigator at (360) 493-5201

Initial Diagnosis

If cancer is suspected, and a tumor is found, a biopsy of the tumor will be taken by a surgeon or other provider and taken to a pathologist. The pathologist is an essential member of your care team. This specialists makes your initial diagnosis through a series of scientific tests and provides the details you care team relies on to determine the best treatment plan for you.

Understanding your report

The pathologist on your care team will prepare an extensive report, primarily including:

  • Your overall diagnosis
  • Subtype
  • Degree of spread
  • Invasion of tumor into blood or lymphatic vessels
  • Growth rate
  • Grade (how much the tumor resembles its normal tissue of origin)

It is important for you to know this information because most of the decisions made about your treatment involve your pathology and lab reports. Our partner pathologists at CellNetix Pathology & Laboratories are available to talk with patients who would like help understanding their report. You may even meet a pathologist at the lab and look at your cells under the microscope.

To contact a pathologist, call:

  • Aberdeen: (360) 537-0562
  • Centralia: (360) 827-6800
  • Olympia: (360) 493-7330

Diagnostic Imaging

Diagnostic imaging is available through hospital-based services at Providence St. Peter Hospital and Providence Centralia Hospital, satellite clinics in Yelm, Hawks Prairie, and at South Sound Radiology next to Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

Our technology is continually updated to make sure you have access to state-of-the-art modalities, including:

  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scanning
  • X-ray
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
  • Ultrasound
  • Mammography, including digital mammography and mammography MRI.