Cancer can strike anyone. With the advancement in technology, various cancer screening methods have been developed. Laboratory and scan studies, such as biopsy and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have revolutionized the early detection of cancer, from microscopic cellular aberrations to gigantic tumors.
The best defense against cancer is prevention. That’s why routine cancer screening is crucial. In this article, you’ll learn the importance of cancer screening to keep you guided on the recommended methods in saving lives.
Early Cancer Detection
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined routine cancer screening as checking the body for cancer before the person shows signs and symptoms. Routing cancer screening tests can help discover breast, cervical, and colon or colorectal cancers early. During this time, treatment likely works best.
Check the following types of cancer that routine screening tests can detect according to CDC:
• Breast Cancer: The most effective way to detect breast cancer in its early stages is mammography.
• Cervical Cancer: Abnormal cells can be detected in the cervix before they turn into cancer through a Pap test. Human papillomavirus (HPV)causes cellular changes in the cervix that can be seen in Pap tests.
• Colon Or Colorectal Cancer: Abnormal growth of precancerous polyps in the rectum or colon can be detected through routine screening tests such as colonoscopy. Polyps must be removed before they become cancerous cells.
• Lung Cancer: Low-Dose Computed Tomography (LDCT) is highly recommended for individuals with a history of heavy smoking.
Routine Cancer Screening Helps Prevent Cancer
You can attain better health by undergoing routine cancer screening, which helps prevent developing cancer. As mentioned, scan studies and biopsy can help detect any changes in the structure and function of cells, preventing them from becoming cancerous. With early detection and diagnosis, full-blown cancer is unlikely.
Check the following routine cancer screening methods to help prevent cancer:
• Mammogram: A mammogram refers to the X-ray of the breasts. It’s an effective and standard screening tool to detect tumor and diagnose breast cancer, along with monthly breast self-examination and regular clinical exams.
• Pap Test: A Pap smear pertains to a procedure to test HPV and abnormal cells that cause cervical cancer. This procedure involves obtaining cells in the lower, narrow end of the uterus (cervix). Early detection of cervical cellular abnormality helps prevent cancer and early diagnosis of cervical cancer, using a Pap test gives a woman a greater chance at a cure.
• Colonoscopy: This procedure is similar to sigmoidoscopy. The doctor uses a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube, inserted in the anus all the way to the rectum and colon, to evaluate if there’s a presence of polyps or cancer cells. The doctor can remove polyps during the test to prevent cancer.
• Low-Dose Computed Tomography (Low-Dose CT scan): This routine screening test is the only recommended test to help detect lung cancer. During the LDCT scan, the patient will be asked to lie in the table and raised their arms above their head. While the CT machine scan the body, the X-ray machine will then show and take detailed image of the lungs.
Assess Your Risks
Routine cancer screening comes with risk assessment as the doctor obtains your lifestyle and medical history. Here are some examples of cancer and their risk factors that a doctor can use to rule out the possibility of cancer:
• Breast Cancer: The risk of having breast cancer involves a combination of factors, which include being a woman and getting older (50 years old or older). Genetic mutations or inherited changes (family history of breast cancer) are at higher risk of developing breast cancer.
Also, in early menstrual periods (before 12 years old) and menopause (after 55 years old) women are exposed to the risk factors of having breast cancer due to longer stay of hormones in the body.
• Cervical Cancer: The presence of HPV is a major risk factor for cervical cancer transmitted during sexual intercourse. HPV changes a woman’s cervical cells, potentially leading to cervical cancer. Other risk factors in developing cervical cancer include smoking, delivery to three more children, prolonged use of birth control pills (five or more years), and multiple sexual partners.
• Colorectal Cancer: The risk of colon or colorectal cancer increases as a person gets older. While this type of cancer occurs in teenagers and young adults, the majority of the colon or colorectal cancers happen in individuals older than 50. The average age at the time of diagnosis for women is 72 and 68 in men.
• Lung Cancer: The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) highly recommends annual lung cancer screening using LDCT for individuals who have 20 packs a year or more smoking history. Also, this early cancer screening method applies to people who cigarette smoke or have anyone who has quit within the past 15 years, ages 50 to 80 years old.
Improve Quality of Life
The earlier cancer is detected through routine cancer screening, the better. In this way, cancer patients can seek immediate treatment to help them improve their quality of life. The goal of cancer treatment, in most cases, is to reduce the signs and symptoms, promoting optimum daily functioning.
During routine cancer screening, your doctor will provide you with better insights as to how to prevent and treat the type of cancer that you’re most vulnerable to. Based on your age, lifestyle and medical history, and other risk factors, your doctor can create a good prevention and treatment plan for you. Also, your doctor can provide expert information, such as the latest trends in cancer detection.
Routine cancer screening is paramount in the prevention, risk assessment, and early detection and diagnosis of different types of cancer. The CDC highly recommends mammogram screening for breast cancer, colonoscopy for colon cancer, Low-dose computed tomography for lung cancer, and Pap test to detect cervical cancer.
Routine cancer screening helps improve a patient’s quality of life, maximizing body functions and living a less painful and stressful life. Also, this time is a perfect opportunity for healthcare providers to educate patients as to how cancer can be prevented and treated nowadays with the help of advanced technology.