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

A low-dose CT screening is an option 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). Talk to your doctor about whether this is a good option for you.

Pathology 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.

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.

Diagnostic imaging

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

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT) scanning
  • X-ray
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Ultrasound
  • Mammography, including digital mammography and mammography MRI
  • Surgery (for diagnostic purposes). Surgery may be necessary to help diagnose the type, location and size of your cancer. Your doctor will refer you to a skilled and experienced surgeon.

Contact Us

Providence Primary Care - Spokane Valley

Providence Primary Care - Providence Medical Park (Spokane Valley)

Family Medicine & Maternity Care – South Hill

Family Medicine - North Spokane

Surgical and Medical Gynecology Clinic - Spokane

Family Medicine - North Pines (Spokane Valley)

Providence Pulmonary and Sleep Disorder Clinic - Spokane

Providence Gynecologic Oncology - Spokane

Providence Gastroenterology - Spokane

Providence Gastroenterology - North Spokane

Providence Gastroenterology - Spokane Valley

Family Medicine - Indian Trail

Providence Primary Care - Spokane, Kendall Yards

Providence Internal Medicine - Spokane

Providence Pediatric Hematology Oncology - Spokane

Providence St. Mary Regional Cancer Center - Walla Walla

North Everett Endocrinology

Monroe Family Medicine

Monroe Internal Medicine

Monroe Pediatrics

Mill Creek Endocrinology

Harbour Pointe Clinic

Providence Regional Cancer System - Shelton

Providence Regional Cancer System - Yelm

Providence Regional Cancer System - Centralia

Providence Family Medicine - Chewelah

Providence Northeast Washington Medical Group - Colville

Providence Northeast Washington Medical Group - Garden Homes

Providence Northeast Washington Medical Group - Kettle Falls

Marysville Clinic

Lynnwood Clinic

Providence Liver and Pancreas - Spokane

Providence Internal Medicine - North

Providence Regional Cancer System - Lacey

Providence Regional Cancer System - Aberdeen