The Importance of Cancer Screening

Checking for cancer and abnormal cells in general that may become cancer is very important even if you do not experience any symptoms. Early detection can save lives. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread and treatment is much harder.

Screening helps doctors find and treat different types of cancer at an early stage and reduce the chance of a fatal consequence. Who should be screened and what cancers can be detected? There are certain risk factors, such as lifestyle habits, family history, environmental exposures and age that play an important role when deciding whether you should or should not be screened. Let’s take a look at some examples!

Breast cancer screening is highly recommended for women who have two or more relatives that suffered from breast and/or ovarian cancer on the same side of the family, especially if they were diagnosed before turning 50. The best way to detect it early: mammogram.

Your risk of colorectal cancer increases with age (it is more common over 45), but obesity, tobacco use, type 2 diabetes, and history of inflammatory bowel disease, colitis and Crohn’s disease are also considered as risk factors. The best way to detect it early: colonoscopy.

Before tests were introduced decades ago, cervical cancer was the number one cause of all cancer deaths among women. Those who are smoking, having multiple sexual partners and gave birth three or more times are more prone to the disease, as well as women that used birth control pills for five or more years. The best way to detect it early: Pap test or HPV test.

Are you a heavy smoker that smokes at least 20-30 packs a year? Know that your risk for developing lung cancer is categorized as high, particularly if you are aged 50 or older. Note that radon exposure and prior treatment with radiation are additional risk factors. The best ways to detect it early: CT scan, sputum cytology, biopsy.

What should you do if you are in the “danger zone”? Reduce risks and consult your doctor!