Cancer Screening Guidelines You Should Follow

Updated on April 27, 2023

Early detection and treatment improve cancer outcomes by ensuring a patient’s chance of survival. However, screening programs require access to early diagnosis and care services, often delayed or inaccessible.

For instance, a colonoscopy screening is recommended for adults at average risk of colorectal cancer. Women are also advised to get mammograms and cervical cancer screenings every three to five years.

Know Your Risk

Knowing your risk for cancer helps you understand the importance of making healthy choices and getting recommended screenings. It also gives you the information to discuss with your doctor when to start cancer testing and how often.

Using risk measurements to make better choices about lifestyle changes or cancer screening can help you save your life. But it’s important to remember that one person’s cancer risk can differ from another’s.

Researchers use absolute and relative risks to measure how likely a person is to get a particular type of cancer. Absolute risk shows the chance of developing the disease over time, while relative risk is compared to someone else’s.

Relative risk is more commonly used in research studies but can be misleading. For example, a report that says your risk is 300 percent higher than it would be for people in your age group may sound alarming, but it doesn’t give you the whole picture.

Know Your Screening Options

Cancer screenings can help you find breast, cervical, and colorectal (colon) cancer early when treatment is most effective.

The American Cancer Society recommends some tests for everyone at a certain age, while your doctor may recommend others based on your personal risk factors. The most important thing is to talk with your doctor to determine what screenings are best for you and when to get them.

According to Dr. Armen Parajian, a surgeon at Lakeridge Health Oshawa and the Durham regional cancer center, selecting the appropriate screenings depends on your specific risk, family history, and health objectives. The proper tests can prevent death and lower medical expenses.

The American Cancer Society recommends annual mammograms for women 40-44 and yearly or every two years for those over 55. Additionally, it advises co-testing for HPV starting at age 25 or for those who have had healthy Pap screenings within the previous ten years, as well as annual pap smears for all women.

Get Screenings Regularly

Getting screenings regularly can be an effective way to detect cancer early before it spreads and becomes more challenging to treat. Screenings may include physical exams, laboratory tests, or genetic testing.

A physical exam can help identify any abnormalities in a person’s body, including lumps, skin changes, or unusual marks on the body. The doctor will also look at a patient’s and family’s health history to determine whether they should be screened for certain types of cancers and when and how frequently to get them.

Some of the most common screenings for cancer are mammograms, Pap smears, HPV testing for cervical cancer, and colonoscopy and low-dose CT scans for colorectal cancer. These tests are often part of a person’s annual physical exam.

Talk to Your Doctor

Screening tests look for cancer or other diseases before a person has symptoms. It helps doctors find the condition and gives patients more treatment options.

Talk to your doctor about cancer screening guidelines you should follow, such as a recommended schedule and what kinds of tests are best for you. These include physical exams, lab tests, and imaging procedures such as CT scans or X-rays.

A physical exam is a complete body exam that assesses your overall health and records any illnesses, treatments, or surgeries. Your doctor will also discuss your history and habits and how they relate to your cancer risk.

Your doctor may recommend screenings for certain types of cancer, such as breast, cervical, or colorectal cancer. These screenings are based on your age, sex, and other factors.

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