The Value of Preventive Cancer Screenings for Early Detection
If you’re interested in improving your health and taking care of your body, you may already be getting more fit and active, making better choices about your diet, and seeing your doctor for regular checkups. One of the best ways to protect your good health is to follow any recommendations from your doctor for preventive cancer screening tests.
Why Should I Have Cancer Screenings?
Cancer screenings help find cancer early, sometimes even before there are symptoms, when it may be easier to treat or cure. Cancer tests may involve:
- Physical exams
- Lab tests (such as blood or urine samples)
- Imaging procedures (such as MRIs or ultrasounds)
- Genetic tests
It is important to remember that being referred for a test doesn’t mean that your doctor believes that you have cancer. The tests often help rule out cancer as a possibility.
When Will My Doctor Recommend Screenings?
Even if you have no symptoms, preventive cancer screenings are recommended if you are at risk for certain cancers. This may mean that you have:
- A family history
- A personal history
- Certain previously identified genetic signs
- Previous exposure to cancer-causing substances either through smoking or in your workplace
- Developed a blood clot without a clear reason
Doctors are also more likely to recommend screenings for older patients, but if you have more risk factors, your doctor may suggest screenings at a younger age than usual.
Types of Screenings
You doctor may recommend one or more of the following screenings:
- Colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy screenings look for early signs of colorectal cancer and are usually performed on people aged 50-75.
- An X-ray called a low-dose helical computed tomography (LDCT) is used to screen for lung cancer in those between the ages of 55 – 74 who have a history of heavy smoking.
- Mammograms screen for breast cancer and have been shown to reduce deaths from the disease for women aged 40-74.
- Pap & HPV testing are used for early detection and treatment of cervical cancer. Testing typically begins at 21 and ends at 65, provided the woman is at normal risk.
Other screenings outlined by the National Cancer Institute are used to look for:
- Liver disease (blood test)
- Genetic mutations that lead to breast cancer (breast MRI)
- Ovarian cancer (blood test and ultrasound)
- Abnormalities leading to skin cancer (skin exams)
- Prostate cancer (blood test)
Early Detection is Key
Early detection is the number one goal of these screenings. By finding any abnormalities at their earliest stage, you can reduce the chance of the cancer spreading, and improve the chances of treating or even curing it.
The best way to stay healthy and make sure you are getting the screenings you need is to get regular health checkups. Depending on your personal and family health histories, your doctor may recommend additional screenings for you.
Contact AltaMed for more information about the health screenings you need at (888) 499-9303.