Should you get cancer screenings? The answer is YES! As an oncologist, I can assure you that early detection of cancer greatly increases the chances for successful treatment. It is so important that as we age, we get regular screenings for cancer. Although we don’t know the causes and risk factors for every kind of cancer, certain types have increased risk, making these tests very important.
Three cancer screenings that could save your life
- Breast cancer accounts for about 30 percent of all cancer diagnoses in women (approximately 270,000 cases annually)
- It is recommended that all women should have an annual mammogram starting at age 40 to check for breast cancer. Some women may want to be screened earlier depending on family or medical history.
- Women should also familiarize themselves with how their breasts look and feel. Always let your doctor know if you ever notice any changes in your breasts.
- Colon cancer accounts for about 8 percent to 10 percent of all cancer diagnoses (approximately 145,000 cases annually)
- People at average risk of colon cancer should start regular screenings at age 45. If you have a family history of colon cancer, screening should be initiated earlier.
- The primary screening for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which should be done every 10 years, unless more frequent tests are suggested by your doctor. Another screening option is known as a FIT screen -- an annual at-home screening test that checks for hidden blood in the stool.
- Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, so it is recommended that adults see a dermatologist annually for routine skin checks.
- You should always be familiar with all moles and spots on your skin. If you notice any changes, you should talk to your doctor right away. Things to look for include changes in size, color and symmetry in current moles or marks on your skin.
According the American Cancer Society, in 2019, more than 1.7 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States. This year alone, there is estimated to be about 607,000 deaths from the disease, which translates to about 1,660 deaths per day. Prevention is key and early detection is vital. Take care of your health and those you love and get regular cancer screenings.