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What Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Cancer Screenings

05-09-2017

What Your Doctor Wants You to Know About Cancer Screenings

When it comes to beating cancer, early detection is critical—and can save your life. Screening tests play a key role in finding cancer before a person develops any symptoms, when it’s small and before it spreads. All screenings are not created equal, though, and different screenings may detect different types of cancer.

CaroMont Health Oncologist Dr. Steven Yates outlines cancer screening tips by age and gender.

  • Screenings in Your 20’s and 30’s

Colon Cancer: For both men and women, unless you are at a higher-than-average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders or other factors, testing is not needed at this age. If you determine that you fit into the higher-than-average risk category, colon cancer testing is recommended. Your physical can help you decide what tests are right for you.

Breast Cancer: Women in their 20’s and 30’s should determine whether they are in the “high risk” category for breast cancer. High risk includes family history, genetic disorder or other factors, including prior radiation exposure. If not, then testing is not needed at this time. Report any changes in the way your breasts look or feel to a healthcare provider right away and discuss beginning routine mammograms.

Cervical Cancer: Starting at age 21 and through age 29, all women should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV tests should not be done unless a Pap test is abnormal. After age 30, women at average risk should get a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years.

  • Screenings in Your 40’s

Colon Cancer: For both men and women, testing is not needed at this age unless you are at a higher-than-average risk for colon cancer because of family history, genetic disorders, or other factors. If you find that you are in the higher-than-average risk category, colon cancer testing is recommended. Your physical can help you decide what tests are right for you.

Prostate Cancer: Starting at age 45, men at higher than average risk of prostate cancer should talk with a doctor about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested. This includes African-American men and men with close family members who had prostate cancer before age 65. Men with more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before age 65 are at even higher risk and should talk with a doctor about testing starting at age 40.

Breast Cancer: Women should stay vigilant and report any changes in the way their breasts look or feel to a doctor immediately. By age 40 they should have their first mammogram and may start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms. After age 45, women should get mammograms every year.

Cervical Cancer: Get a Pap test and an HPV test done every 5 years. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

  • Screenings at Age 50-64

Colon Cancer: All men and women at average risk should start testing at age 50.

Prostate Cancer: Starting at age 50, all men at average risk should talk with their doctor about the uncertainties, risks and potential benefits of testing so they can decide if they want to be tested. Although screening is not heavily endorsed, it remains clear that Prostate Cancer deaths have dropped significantly since screening began in the early 1990s.

Lung Cancer: If you are age 55 or older, talk to your doctor about your smoking history and whether you should get yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack per year smoking history.

Breast Cancer: Women aged 50 to 54 should get annual mammograms; after 55, you may switch to biannual mammograms, or continue to get one every year.

Cervical Cancer: Women should get a Pap test and HPV test every 5 years. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

  • Screenings After Age 65

Colon Cancer: Testing is recommended for both men and women, and there are many testing options. Talk with your doctor about which tests are best for you and how often testing should be done.

Prostate Cancer: Overall health status, and not age alone, is important when making decisions about prostate cancer testing. Men who can expect to live at least 10 more years should talk with their doctor about the uncertainties risks, and potential benefits of testing.

Lung Cancer: If you are age 55 or older, talk to your doctor about your smoking history and whether you should get yearly low-dose CT scans to screen for early lung cancer. Screening may benefit if you are an active or former smoker (quit within the past 15 years), have no signs of lung cancer and have a 30 pack per year smoking history.

Breast Cancer: Women aged 65 or older should get biannual mammograms, but they may continue to get one every year.

Cervical Cancer: No testing is needed if you’ve had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results during the previous 10 years. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue testing for 20 years after that diagnosis.

  • Making Wise Health Decisions

Outside of regular screenings, there are lifestyle choices your doctor would encourage you to make to reduce your risk of developing cancer—and achieve a healthier life as a result. Get to and maintain a healthy weight, and stay moving with regular physical activity. Eat plenty of healthy and nutritious fruits and vegetables, and limit your alcohol intake. Avoid all forms of tobacco, protect your skin from sun damage or extended exposure and become familiar with yourself and your family history so that you know your risks.

Categories: Health