Cancer screening is a way of detecting cancer before the appearance of any symptoms. For a successful cancer screening, one has to go through several tests like blood tests, urine tests, DNA tests or medical imaging. Although the results can vary from false positive to false negative results, it is essential to get screened in order to improve your chances of survival.
Why should anyone be screened for cancer?
When your doctor suggests that you get a screening test, it does not always mean that he or she thinks that you may have cancer. Screening tests are best done when you have no cancer symptoms.
Cancer screening is a way to detect the presence of cancer cells in the body before the appearance of any symptoms. Thus, any individual should be screened to reduce the risks of detecting cancer in the later stages. It helps anyone going through the process to seek proper medical treatment at the initial stages of the malignant disease. It also provides useful health information for proper medical treatment.
Screening gives the best chance of detecting cancer as early as possible — while it's small and before it has spread.
Different types of screening tests
Types of screening tests include:
- A physical exam, which is a whole body exam to check general overall health, signs of disease or anything else that appears unusual. A history of the patient's health habits, past illnesses and treatments will also be taken at that time
- Imaging procedures, which are procedures that help to get a view inside the body
- Genetic tests, which are tests that look for specific gene mutations that are linked to some types of cancer
Who needs to be screened for cancer?
Individuals with higher risks of various types of cancer are usually identified by their doctors based on their lifestyle, medical history, and family health history. Once the doctor finds the need for a screening to be done, the patient is asked to go through a thorough cancer screening process.
How often should you have a cancer screening done?
Screening is purely based on a doctor's recommendation. Depending on one's personal history, family health history and screening results, a doctor will recommend a corresponding screening schedule.
A general guideline for screenings is as follows:
- Breast cancer screening: Every couple of years for women over 50
- Cervical cancer screening: Every three years for women over 21
- Prostate cancer screening: At least once for men over 55
- Colorectal cancer screening: Yearly after age 50 for men and women
- CT colonoscopy: Every five years
- Lung cancer screening: Yearly after age 55 if you have ever smoked
Benefits of regular cancer screening
The most important advantage of any cancer screening process is the detection of the disease in its initial stages. This helps in beginning treatment in the most treatable stages. As a result, the mortality rates drop. In cancer screening types like endoscopic screening for colorectal cancer and Papanicolaou smears for cervical cancer, screening can at times even resist the occurrence of the disease by detecting and hence removing its precursors.
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