Start 2017 Right: Plan for Cancer Screening and Save Lives!

Screening guidelines should initiate conversations with your healthcare team. 

Charles H Weaver MD, Editor CancerConnect

The goal of cancer screening is to find disease at early stages in people who are otherwise asymptomatic—before it causes symptoms and when it may be more easily treatable.  Screening tests are not available for every type of cancer, but for certain cancers—such as breast, colon, and cervical—there are tests available that are low risk and effective at detecting early disease. Because these screening methods have proven to be very effective, they are recommended for the general population as a means of early detection. In general, the recommended age guidelines to begin screening tests for a particular disease correspond to the age at which that disease is most likely to develop and become detectable. The frequency of screening tests corresponds to the natural history of the disease.

Screening programs are recommended (or not), for populations as a whole, and it is important to realize that not all screening programs—or recommendations not to screen—apply to every person. People who have a high risk of a particular disease—because of a known genetic predisposition, family history, or an associated disease process—may be recommended to undergo a different regimen of testing compared with persons who are at average risk. Also, not every physician will recommend every known screening test for every suitable patient. Being aware of the current recommended guidelines for cancer screening will encourage you to stay healthy, get regular checkups, and work with your doctor (usually your primary care physician) to get appropriate screening tests.

Cervical:
Three years after becoming sexually active with vaginal intercourse begin screening.

  • Pap test annually
  • Liquid-based Pap test every two years

Age 21, all women should begin screening

  • Pap test annually
  • Liquid-based Pap test every two years

Age 30, women who have had three normal Pap tests may decrease screening to every two years or every three years in conjunction with a human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test.

Breast:
Age 30

  • Women should be aware of the look and feel of their breasts and report any changes to a care provider as soon as possible. Breast self-exams may help women become familiar with their breasts but are not recommended as a screening tool.

Age 40

  • Women at average risk should have annual mammograms and continuing for as long as the woman is in good health. Recommendations are undergoing a bit of controversy right now-make sure you discuss with your doctor.

Colon:
Age 50, people of average risk should undergo:

  • Fecal occult blood test (home multiple sample kit) annually
  • Fecal immunochemical test (home multiple sample kit) annually Or one of these tests:
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years
    • Double contrast barium enema every five years
    • Computed tomography colonography every five years

Skin:

  • Regular examination of the skin by all people (as well as by their doctor during checkups) will increase the chance of finding skin cancers early. Monthy self-examination of skin will make people familiar with their own natural pattern of moles and birthmarks and help them find any change in skin lesions, which should be reported to a doctor. Regular skin checks by a doctor are indicated for people who already had skin cancer.

Learn more from the latest data and news on cancer screening;

CancerConnect 

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