Save the Date: Annual Cancer Screenings
Comprehensive Cancer Centers reminds everyone that an important part of managing one’s healthcare comes from ensuring all relevant screenings are completed each year. Screening tests are used to detect cancer before a person presents any symptoms. This need often extends beyond the individual and to their family and friends, who can benefit from gentle, and informed, encouragement to be screened regularly, as well.
Setting up screenings is often guided by regular, primary care physicians or family doctors that patient see regularly and who build patient profiles based on age, family and health history and other factors. These factors lead to setting up a regular screening schedule that patients can follow, as necessary, and can always supplement with additional exams when risk factors or symptoms present.
If you do not have a regular doctor, or a family or loved one does not either, Comprehensive urges you to establish a relationship with one. Once you have a regular physician relationship , the following information will help with guidelines for screenings that can be shared with your physician to help set up timelines for testing.
Cancer Screening Guidelines
Guidelines for cancer screenings offer excellent details to help people more thoroughly take ownership over their health, appropriate to their ages, medical history and family medical histories. The American Cancer Society provides these cancer-screening guidelines for most adults, with exceptions including previous illnesses or family histories of these cancers.
Breast Cancer Screenings
Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish. Women age 45 to 54 are recommended to get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or can continue yearly screening depending on physician’s counsel. Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
The breast surgery team at Comprehensive Cancer Centers also recommends that those with family history, genetic tendencies, or other risk factors should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms prior to the age of 40. Prior, and in addition to screenings, women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
Colon and Rectal Cancer and Polyps Screenings
Comprehensive Cancer adheres to guidelines that recommend people at average risk for colorectal cancer starting regular screening at age 45. This can be done either with a sensitive test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool, or with a visual exam that looks at the colon and rectum through a scope.
If people are in good health, regular screening should continue through age 75. For those ages 76 through 85, talk with your health care provider about whether continued screening is your best option. People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening. When deciding on testing timelines, take into account your own preferences, overall health, and past screening history.
If you choose to be screened with a test other than colonoscopy, any abnormal test result needs to be followed up with a colonoscopy.
Cervical Cancer Screenings
Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested. Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test “co-testing” completed every 5 years.
Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer, unless a physician determines special need. Once testing is discontinued, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65.
A woman who has had her uterus and cervix removed – a total hysterectomy – for reasons unrelated to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested. All women who have been vaccinated for HPV should still follow screening recommendations for their age groups.
Certain women – because of their health history – HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc. – may require a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Here, as always, speak to your health care provider about your medical history.
Endometrial Cancer Screening
The American Cancer Society recommends at the time of menopause, women should be told about risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding or spotting to their doctors to determine if additional testing is necessary.
Certain women due to medical history may consider having a yearly endometrial biopsy. Such a plan should be created in conjunction with a physician.
L3ung Cancer Screenings
Smokers, former smoker or those who work in an environment where second hand smoke is prevalent, may need a screening for lung cancer. If so, the American Cancer Society recommends yearly lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) for certain people at higher risk for lung cancer who are smokers or those who may have smoked and later quit. Share your smoking history with your doctor to confirm testing needs. Comprehensive Cancer Centers and its lung division offers evaluations for lung cancer screenings as well as low-dose CT scans for those who are at risk.
Prostate Cancer Screening
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a health care provider about the pros and cons of testing so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them. If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with a health care provider starting at age 45. If testing is seen as necessary, get a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.
Skin Cancer Screenings
Make sure to set up an annual full body skin review with your dermatologist. The full body review will make sure nothing is currently on your skin that requires further review and/or treatment. Screenings for skin, as with all other cancers, gives your physicians baselines to account for any changes with each passing year.
Comprehensive Cancer Centers Can Help
Physicians at Comprehensive Cancer Centers of Nevada provide a variety of treatment options including: chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and clinical research for the treatment of cancer. For a complete list of clinical research studies currently being conducted at Comprehensive, please click here. To schedule an appointment with the team at Comprehensive, please call 702-952-3350.
The content is this post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.