Cancer Screening Should Be Part of Your Annual Checkups
In 2007 The American Cancer Society estimates these were 1.4 million new cases of cancer diagnosed in the US.
Here's a table of the top 10 cancers, and the estimated new cases for 2006
Too often in our hurried life-style we neglect routine exams. But they could save your life. Our best defense against cancer at this time is prevention (stop smoking is a good example here), and early detection. With many cancers the earlier the detection the better the chance of an actual cure.
Even in your 20s periodic health exams are a good idea. Your health care provider can check the thyroid, lymph nodes, mouth, breast, ovaries or testes. A skin exam looking for unusual moles is also in order. Unfortunately, melanoma can occur at any age.
Yearly mammograms and breast exams beginning at age 40. Women should begin monthly breast self-examinations starting in their 20s. Becoming familiar with the feel of your own breasts will allow you to see your health care professional promptly if there are changes. Talk to your doctor if you have a history is breast cancer in your sisters or mother. Other tests may be needed (such as a breast MRI) if you are at higher risk
Beginning at age 50 a screening examination should include one of the following:
A fecal occult blood test every year
A flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
A colonoscopy every 10 years
If you have a positive family history of early colon cancer, start screening earlier.
Nothing is more controversial that screening for prostate cancer at this time. Talk to your doctor about what to do and whether you should be screened. The potential benefits of PSA screening has not yet been conclusively proven.
Beginning at age 50 a prostate exam and a blood PSA test every year used to be recommended for men who are expected to live at least 10 years. High risk men should start the testing at age 45. African American men, and men with a father or one or more brothers who developed prostate cancer before age 65 are considered in the high risk category. Now the recommendation is you talk the risks vs. benefits over with your health care provider.
By age 21 (or sooner if sexually active) women should begin having Pap smears every 2 years. After age 30, and if 3 Pap tests are normal, the screening can be reduced to once every 3 years. Women may choose to stop testing after a hysterectomy (unless it was done for cervical cancer) or after the age of 70 when 3 pap exams have been normal for the past 10 years. Women who have had their uterus and cervix removed surgically for reasons other than cancer do not need to be tested.
For more information visit www.cancer.org
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