Keeping Up with Check-ups
June 12, 2012
John Stoddard Cancer Center
Thanks to screenings, cancer can be detected and treated earlier than ever. Over the last several decades, cancer screenings have dramatically decreased the number of cancer-related deaths. The number of women who died from cervical cancer in the United States is down nearly 74 percent from the 1950s, according to the National Cancer Institute (www.healthywomen.org). Preventive screenings mean you have a better chance of beating the disease and living a long and healthy life. Here are some of the screenings that can help detect cancer in its earliest and most preventable stages. If you are at high risk for any of these conditions, talk to your doctor about when and how frequently you should be screened.
- Colonoscopy provides protection against colon cancer. Screenings for both men and women should begin at age 50 and be held every five years.
- Skin examinations are performed by your physician to see if there are any changes in shape or appearance of moles. Doctors should perform this exam every three years for those ages 20 to 39, and annually for those age 40 and over. Monthly self-exams will help you keep track of skin changes or irregularities.
- Chest X-rays should be performed yearly to detect lung cancer in its earliest stages.
- Blood tests, screening for correct blood counts may help identify disease before physical symptoms are present. These tests should be conducted annually.
- Pelvic exams, which typically include pap smears, detect abnormalities such as cysts, infections, and tumors in women's reproductive systems and connective tissues between organs. Your physician should conduct this exam at least every two years.
- Clinical breast exams look for changes in the breast indicated by color, skin irregularities, and a change in the shape and texture of the nipple. Women should be examined every three years until age 40, at which point they should begin getting annual mammograms. Self breast exams should be conducted each month to identify lumps in the breast and lymph system in its earliest stages.
- Prostate screening should be conducted with a digital rectal exam (DRE) and a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test. Screenings for prostate cancer should be done yearly after age 50. Men with a family history should be tested at age 40.
- Testicular exams by your physician should be conducted annually. Self exams should also be completed each month to look for changes or growths on the testicles which could be signs of testicular cancer.
|Non-Invasive Imaging Tests for Cancer
If you notice a lump in your breast, one way to protect yourself is by having an imaging test. Imaging tests, like mammograms, give doctors a picture of the breast tissue to see if the mass could be cancerous. But there's another advantage of imaging tests. They can also pinpoint the exact location of a tumor inside the body and the stage (or progression) of the disease. Tumors can then be detected quickly, and reoccurrence of the disease can be tracked without exploratory surgery.
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