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Everything You Need To Know About Cancer Screening: A Practical Guide

by Melissa Bell
4 minutes read

When it comes to cancer, receiving a diagnosis is never easy, and after the initial shock, you need to figure out how to deliver the news to your friends and family as well as adjusting to your care plan. Regular cancer screens can help reduce the shock of receiving a diagnosis. While some cancers are harder to test for, breast or cervical cancers have screening tests in place that are not only able to identify cancer early but are used in order to prevent the occurrence of the disease by spotting warning signs that could help you make changes to reduce your risk. Our article will tell you everything you need to know about cancer screening and what you need to look out for.

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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer for women, but it is also forgotten by many that men are also susceptible to the disease. When it comes to screening for breast cancer, there are three tests that can be administered: mammography, MRI, and clinical breast exam.

The most common test for breast cancer is the mammogram, which is an X-ray of the breast that can identify if there is cancer in the tissue before a patient shows signs or has any lumps. A mammogram should be conducted every two years for those aged 40 to 44, annually between the ages of 45 to 54, and every two years from 55 onwards. If any abnormalities are spotted, mammogram diagnostics will be able to identify the cause.

Cervical Cancer

Cervical cancer was once the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America for women. However, since improvements in regular screenings, this is no longer the case as these tests can identify precancer cells before they become cancerous. The Pap smear and HPV test are typically conducted during the same procedure, and both involve collecting cells from the cervix to look for abnormalities as well as signs of HPV.

From the ages of 21 to 29, women should have a Pap smear every three years, and from 30 to 64, women should have both tests; the Pap smear every three years and the HPV every five years. Once you reach 65, if you have had no abnormalities for several years or undergone a hysterectomy, you can stop having the Pap smear and HPV test.

Regular screening is essential to ensure any precancerous or cancerous cells are found early as cervical cancer typically doesn’t cause any symptoms in the early stages, which is why it is vital that you book with Ezra for your cancer screening program. Ezra uses state-of-the-art testing to give you the best chances of survival when faced with a cancer diagnosis by catching it early.

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer, which is cancer of the rectum and colon, is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and women, excluding skin cancers. There are two tests conducted when screening for colorectal cancer; visual and stool. During the visual test, which is called a colonoscopy, a thin tube is inserted into the rectum in order to check for abnormalities. Virtual colonoscopies work slightly differently but constructing an image of your colon using X-rays. A stool test is conducted on feces to detect blood or abnormal DNA and will involve a home collection kit which your doctor will provide you with. Typically, screenings for this type of cancer should begin at 45 until 75. Once you reach 75, your doctor will explain if you need to continue screenings, and after 86, most doctors recommend that you no longer need to continue with screenings.

Lung Cancer

While the most common cause of this type of cancer is due to smoking, lung cancer can also be found in people who have never smoked but may have been exposed to radon or asbestos. Lung cancer isn’t as common as other forms of cancer; however, the LCDT test, which is a low-dose computed tomography, can be used in some cases to help screen for lung cancer. Unless the patient is high-risk, the LDCT test is not typically recommended. If you receive an LDCT, an X-ray will create detailed images of your lungs in order for a doctor to check for any abnormalities. This test is only recommended for those over the age of 55 or if they are high-risk cases, but they are not recommended for people at risk who don’t smoke.

Other Cancers

For other cancers, such as prostate, ovarian, or skin, there is insufficient evidence that regular screenings are beneficial. However, if you find that you are experiencing abnormalities in regards to your health, you should seek the advice of a doctor as soon as possible. In most cases, abnormalities are nothing to worry about, but doctors recommend checking any issues you have to ensure that your health problems are not linked to cancer.

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