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5 Cancer Tests That Could Save Your Life

5 Cancer Tests That Could Save Your Life
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By    |   Friday, 26 January 2018 09:51 AM

Cancer. The word strikes fear in almost everyone diagnosed with the second leading cause of death in the U.S. But the truth is that more people are living with cancer than ever before.

That’s because more Americans are taking advantage of cancer screening procedures that can identify cancer in its earliest stages, when it is most easily treatable, manageable, or even curable.

Each year, cancer kills approximately 600,000 Americans, but what makes this number even more upsetting is that many of those lives could have been saved as a result of earlier detection and diagnosis, which can be achieved by frequent cancer screenings.

“When we find cancer before symptoms develop, before it spread inside the body, then we can be much more successful and survival is much more likely,” notes Dr. Robert A. Smith, a cancer epidemiologist and vice president of cancer screening for the American Cancer Society (ACS).

“Early detection makes a big difference. In fact, there are thousands of deaths that are occurring every year because people have not had the opportunity or taken the opportunity to be screened for cancer.”

So what types of cancer should you be getting screened for – and when – depending on your age, gender, and other issues?

Smith tells Newsmax Health the ACS recommends Americans be screened for at least the following five major cancers. Depending on your risk factors – genetics, lifestyle, and other issues – you should talk to your doctor about other cancer screenings that may make sense for you.

Breast cancer. Women should undergo mammography screening annually after age 45, according to Smith, while federal guidelines recommend tests every other year for women starting at age 50 to 74. Those at high risk might also consider breast screening earlier or seek genetic testing. Self breast exams are also a good idea, experts say.

Colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women begin colorectal cancer screening at age 50 – with a colonoscopy – and continue on regular intervals (every five to 10 years) until age 75. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) notes that people at increased risk due to a family history of colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or certain inherited conditions may be advised to start screening before age 50 and/or have more frequent screening.

Prostate cancer. The federal government no longer recommends routine PSA (prostate specific antigen) testing for most men, but many cancer specialists say those at risk for prostate cancer can benefit from it. Your best bet: Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of PSA testing, and if it is right for you.

Cervical cancer. “Most women are acquainted with cancer screening early in their lives when they begin getting yearly Pap smears,” Smith explains. The USPSTF recommends that women ages 21 through 65 be tested annually. A Pap test, or Pap smear, can be done in a doctor’s office or clinic.

Lung cancer. For long-time smokers, lung cancer screenings are recommended yearly at age 50 by the American Cancer Society. The USPSTF concurs, recommending that a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) test be administered annually in adults aged 55 to 80 who have a 30 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the last 15 years.

Screening isn’t just a way to assess symptoms as they occur in your body, but is something perfectly healthy people should be doing anyway.

“We recommend screening, not when you don’t feel well or are showing symptoms, but when you feel just fine and have no sign of symptoms,” Smith explains.

“Routine cancer screening, for most people, is going to deliver them the normal test results: they have the reassurance of being told they’re healthy. They should come back on a regular schedule for their next test. But if you do undergo regular cancer screening and are developing cancer, the odds are much higher that you will develop it at an early, favorable stage, and have a much greater chance of successful treatment.”

The best thing to do is to have a conversation with your doctor about your preventive health plan.

“Schedule a time to talk with your doctor, and find what cancer screening tests are right for you, and ask your doctor to work with you to ensure that you have regular reminders for when you should get these tests,” Smith says.

“Screening rates are lower than they should be, but if people take the opportunity to be proactive about their health, we can prevent many deaths from cancer from finding them early and treating them.”

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Cancer strikes fear in most people, because it is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. But more Americans are living with cancer than ever before, in part because screening tests can catch the disease at early, treatable stages. Here’s an important medical update.
cancer, test, life, saver
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2018-51-26
Friday, 26 January 2018 09:51 AM
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