Guardian for Health: Empowering Lives through Cancer Screening
Cancer screening aims to detect cancer before symptoms appear. This may involve blood tests, urine tests, DNA tests, other tests, or medical imaging. The benefits of screening in terms of cancer prevention, early detection and subsequent treatment must be weighed against any harms.
Cancer screening involves tests to detect cancer before symptoms appear. It’s important to discuss screening options with Cancer screening in simple terms means getting regular health check-ups and tests to catch any signs of cancer early, even before you feel sick. This helps increase the chances of treating and curing cancer if it’s found at an early stage. Most of the cancers are curable if detected in early stages. The tests you need depend on factors like your age, gender, and family history. It’s like doing regular maintenance checks for your car to catch any problems before they get serious. A healthcare professional to determine the best approach based on age, risk factors, and medical history.
Some common screenings include mammograms for breast cancer, Pap tests for cervical cancer, and colonoscopies for colorectal cancer. It’s essential to consult a doctor to create a personalized screening plan that aligns with individual health needs and considerations.
Cancer screening for females typically includes tests like mammograms for breast cancer and Pap tests for cervical cancer. Mammograms use X-rays to look for signs of breast cancer, while Pap tests check for abnormal cells in the cervix. It’s important for women to discuss with their doctor about when to start these screenings and how often to get them based on their age and health history. The starting age for cancer screening can vary based on the type of cancer and individual risk factors.
For breast cancer, as per ACS guidelines, women should undergo regular screening mammography starting at age 45 years. Between 45 to 54 years, they should undergo annual screening, after 55 years biennial screening is advised.
For cervical cancer, screening should begin at age of 21 years. Between 21 to 29 years should receive cytology screening every 3 yearly. Between 30 to 65 years should be screened for cytology and HPV testing every 5 yearly. Screening is discontinued after 65 years if 3 consecutive negative cytology or 2 consecutive negative HPV tests.
Cancer screening for males often involves tests like prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood tests for prostate cancer and regular check-ups for testicular cancer. PSA tests measure a protein in the blood that can be elevated in prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screening with PSA tests typically starts around age 50 for most men until life expectancy is less than 10 years.
Screening for colorectal cancer, if done early enough, is preventive because almost all colorectal cancers originate from benign growths called polyps, which can be located and removed during a colonoscopy. recommends screening for colorectal cancer using fecal occult blood testing annually , sigmoidoscopy 5 yearly, or colonoscopy 10 yearly, CT-colonography 5 yearly usually done starting at age 45-50.
Screening studies for lung cancer have only been done in high risk populations, such as smokers and workers with occupational exposure to certain substances. The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography in adults ages 55 to 74 years who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years with relatively good health.
Regular oral cancer screenings are recommended for adults starting around the age of 18 or older. Dentists and oral healthcare providers often perform these screenings during routine dental check-ups. If you have specific risk factors such as tobacco or alcohol use, or a history of oral cancer in your family, your dentist might recommend more frequent screenings. If you notice any unusual changes in your mouth, lips, tongue, or throat, it’s a good idea to consult a healthcare professional for an evaluation.
Dr. Mahesh Kalloli
MS, Mch (Surgical Oncology)