Start 2020 Right: Plan for Cancer Screening and Save Lives!
by Dr. C.H, Weaver M.D. updated 11/2020
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. The COVID pandemic has disrupted normal screening programs and many cancers will go undiagnosed leading to a rise in mortality from cancer. 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 and they should be performed despite concerns raised by the COVID pandemic. 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.
Age 25-65, women should undergo human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test every 5 years. PAP test no longer recommended. Learn more here....
Several organizations provide screening guidelines that are often in conflict with each other leading to confusion.
- 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.
- 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. ACS guidelines.....
Age 45, people of average risk should undergo the following:
- 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
- Learn more about colonoscopy screening for colon cancer.
- In depth guidelines for colon cancer screening for average and higher risk individuals.
- 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. Monthly 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.
- Take control and self screen for skin cancer.
- Individuals at risk of developing lung cancer should undergo regular evaluation with low dose CT scanning. Learn more.
- Visual screening for oral cancers should be considered in high risk individuals. Learn more ..
Learn more from the latest data and news on cancer screening;