|We Interrupt this Regularly Scheduled Program|
Unfortunately, there is no alarm that sounds when you develop skin cancer. No siren blares when colon cancer arises. No "we-interrupt-this-regularly-scheduled-programming" warning to let you know that you have grown a mass in your breast.
While many cancers don't have obvious symptoms, routine screening tests can uncover cancer in its earliest stages. These screenings are important - the sooner you discover an abnormality and treat it, the better your outcome can be. The American Cancer Society recommends the following screenings for most adults:
Breast Cancer. Yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Clinical breast examinations every three years for women in their 20s and 30s; once a year for women 40 and up. Learn more >>
Cervical Cancer. Women in their 20s should have a Pap test at least every three years. Women from 30-65 should have a Pap test, and talk with their doctors about having a HPV test, every five years. Learn more >>
Prostate Cancer. Starting around age 50 (depending on family history and other risk factors), men should talk to a doctor about the pros and cons of testing. If men decide to be tested, they should have a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often they are tested will depend on their PSA level. Learn more >>
Women and Men
Colon Cancer. Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these testing schedules: Colonoscopy every 10 years, or flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or double contrast barium enema every 5 years, or CT colonography every 5 years. If the non-colonoscopy tests are positive, a colonoscopy should be performed. Also, a yearly fecal occult blood test, a yearly fecal immunochemical test, or a yearly stool DNA test should be performed. A colonoscopy should be performed if the test is positive. Learn more >>
For people age 20 or older, a cancer-related check-up should include an examination of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.
Of course, some people should be screened using different schedules because of their personal history or family history. Talk with your doctor (stfrancishealth.org/findadoc) about your history and what cancer screening schedule is best for you.