Most people need to follow a standard schedule for cancer screening. However, if you are at high risk for any cancer, you may need to follow a different screening schedule. Ask your Primary Care Provider (PCP) to advise you. If you note a symptom that might be cancer, see your PCP right away.
Starting at age 40, women need a mammogram every year to screen for breast cancer. Women in their 20s and 30s need a breast exam as part of their regular checkup every three years. Women over 40 need a breast exam yearly.
Both men and women at average risk for colon cancer need one of several tests. Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, you may need a different test at a younger age.
All women are at risk for cervical cancer. It occurs most often in women over age 30. According to CDC, approximately 12,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. While cervical cancer is a serious disease, it is also the easiest gynecologic cancer to prevent, with regular screening tests and follow-up.
Cervical cancer occurs when abnormal cells in the lining of the cervix begin growing out of control. The cervix connects the body of the uterus to the vagina. The human papillomavirus (HPV) is usually the cause of cervical cancer. HPV is a common virus that is transmitted during sex.
The two screening tests that assist in prevention and early detection are the Pap test (Pap smear) and human papillomavirus (HPV) test. The Pap test looks for cervical precancerous cell changes. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test looks for the virus that can causes the cell changes. It is recommended that you start getting a pap test at age 21. If you are 30 years or older, you have the option to co-test. Co-testing is having both the HPV test and the Pap test performed at the same time. Additionally, there are currently two vaccines available to protect females against the types of HPV that cause most cervical, vaginal, and vulvar cancers. Bothe vaccines are recommended for 11 and 12 year old girls, and for 13 to 26 year old females who did receive any of the vaccines when they were younger.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death and the second most common cancer among both men and women in the United States.
Lung cancer is a disease in which the cell in the lungs grow out of control and can spread to other organs in the body. The risk factors include, smoking, secondhand smoke, radon, personal or family history of lung cancer, radiation to the chest, and exposure to other substances like asbestos, arsenic, etc.
To reduce your risk don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke and exposure to carcinogens. If you smoke, stop smoking, ask for help and support, and get tested or screened for lung cancer.
Prostate cancer is the uncontrollable growth of abnormal cells in the prostate. This type of cancer is very common among American men.
The prostate gland is responsible for making a portion of the fluid found in semen. This gland which is only found in males, is located internally below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The size of the prostate in younger men is compared to a size of a walnut. However the size of the prostate changes with age. There are two tests used to screen for prostate cancer, digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. During a digital rectal exam a doctor or nurse feels the prostate to estimate the size of the prostate and feel for lumps or other abnormalities. The PSA test measures the level of PSA in the blood. An elevated PSA level may indicate prostate cancer or other conditions that affect the prostate.
American Cancer Society recommends that prostate screening discussion should occur at:
- Age 50 for men who are at average risk of prostate cancer and are expected to live at least 10 more years.
- Age 45 for men at high risk of developing prostate cancer. This includes African Americans and men who have a first-degree relative (father, brother, or son) diagnosed with prostate cancer at an early age (younger than age 65).
- Age 40 for men at even higher risk (those with more than one first-degree relative who had prostate cancer at an early age).
Remember prevention and early detection is always the goal of screening tests and they key factors in fighting cancer.
As part of your annual checkup, your doctor should perform a full body skin exam to check for possible signs of skin cancer. A thorough exam of your skin includes checking for moles or marks that are multicolored or asymmetrical. You should also be familiar with the marks on your body. Contact your doctor if you see any changes or abnormalities.
For more information, click the appropriate link:
Breast Cancer - What to Know
Cancer - Prevention and Treatment
American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer Prevention
National Cancer Institute
NYC Health - Colon Cancer
NYC Health + Hospitals - Cancer Care