Screening Protocols For Most Serious Cancers
Healthcare experts are always emphasizing on getting periodic cancer screening evaluations; but a lot of people are confused about which tests to undertake. There are numerous screening tests and not all can be done! To make things simpler, here is a list of three most important screening tests that can change the overall outcome of your cancer journey if detected early.
- Breast cancer
- Cervical cancer
- Colon cancer
In most cases, cancer screening recommendations are age dependent. For example, colon cancer is more likely to occur in older people. Therefore, this screening test is highly suggested for people aged between 50 and 75. Likewise, it is least recommended to people aged 49 or below. Furthermore, these guidelines are based upon risk factors and presence of certain signs and symptoms indicating the potential development or occurrence of cancers. There are certain tests that may cost you an arm and a leg! While some tests are not fillable! All these factors combined helps in deciding whether a particular cancer screening test is worth taking or should be recommended!
For detecting breast cancers, mammograms or breast x-rays are performed. Breast cancers are not so common in women below 40 years of age. Younger women should only get this screening if they are at high risk! Those who are in their 40s or are 75 and above, should discuss the risk benefit ratio with the doctor. This screening is highly recommended in women aged between 50 and 74 years. Such women should have mammogram after every two years.
Risk factors of breast cancer are:
- Family history
- Atypical hyperplasia (a benign condition of breast)
- Dense breast
- Did not conceive before 30
- Periods started before age of 12
- Delayed menopause (periods after age of 55 years)
- Postmenopausal hormone-replacement therapy
- Chronic alcoholism and smoking
The screening test for cervical cancer is “Pap smear”. It involves a smear taken from the tissues of cervix which is then analyzed for the presence of human papilloma virus (HPV), a virus that causes cervical cancer.
This tests is highly recommended for women aged between 21 and 30. Adult women must undertake Pap smear after every 3 years. On the other hands, 5-year interval is suggested for women who are between 30 and 65, and are also undertaking HPV test at the same time. However, females with high risk factors should be screened more frequently. Elderly women (65 or above) do not require Pap smear tests if they had at a young age. This screening test is not recommended for girls aged 21 or below, because it is not common in younger females. Moreover, tests results are not useful for them.
- Use of contraceptive pills for 5 or more years
- Family history of cervical cancer
- History of HPV infection in the past
Colon cancer screening involves a number of tests including, colonoscopy (after every 10 years), sigmoidoscopy (after every 5 years) and a stool test that must be done every year or at a 3-year interval. (Colonoscopy is an examination of entire colon via movable scope and sigmoidoscopy is examination of lower third of colon). This disease usually occurs at the age of 50 or above therefore, those who are below 50 are not recommended to undergo colon cancer screening until or unless there is high risk factor. Those who are between 50 and 75 should be screened more often, while people above 75 should ask doctor about harm benefit ratio in accordance to their risk factors and health status.
- History of precancerous polyps
- Family history of colon cancer
- Type 2 diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Excessive intake of red or processed meat
- Chronic alcoholism
Speak to your doctor if you think you are a candidate of periodic screening.
- Consedine, N. S., Tuck, N. L., Ragin, C. R., & Spencer, B. A. (2015). Beyond the black box: a systematic review of breast, prostate, colorectal, and cervical screening among native and immigrant African-descent Caribbean populations. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 17(3), 905-924.
- Sabatino, S. A., Lawrence, B., Elder, R., Mercer, S. L., Wilson, K. M., DeVinney, B., … & Rimer, B. K. (2012). Effectiveness of interventions to increase screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers: nine updated systematic reviews for the guide to community preventive services. American journal of preventive medicine, 43(1), 97-118.