Preventive Cancer Screenings and Your Health

by The Cooperative
Staying up to date on preventive cancer screening services is essential to taking care of your health. Establishing and building open communication with your provider about your personal preventive screening needs is the first step. Staying up to date on recommended preventive screening tests can help find breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer at an early stage before symptoms appear. Cancer may be easier to treat or cure when it is found early.
Cancer screenings are recommended for adults in different age ranges. Your provider will be able to give you more in-depth information on what screenings are right for you, but some of the general recommendations include the following:

Breast Cancer Screening

For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early before it is large enough to feel or cause symptoms. The frequency of mammogram screenings is determined by age and risk level.

  • Women 50-74 years old and at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years.
  • Women 40 to 49 years old should talk to their provider about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.

Cervical Cancer Screenings

 The Human papillomavirus (HPV) and Pap tests can help prevent cervical cancer or find it early.

  • The HPV test checks the cells on the cervix for the human papillomavirus that can cause cell changes in the cervix. Women can start getting HPV tests at age 30.
  • The Pap test checks the cells on the cervix for precancerous cells that could turn into cervical cancer if not treated properly. It is recommended that women start completing Pap tests at age 21.

Colorectal Cancer Screening:

Several tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancer. It is recommended that regular colorectal cancer screenings should begin at age 45.

The colonoscopy is a common and effective screening tool. The doctor uses a long, thin, flexible lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the colon. This test should be done every 10 years.
Stool-based tests are tests that check the stool for signs of cancer. These tests are less invasive, easier to complete, and often can be done at home. Stool-based tests include the following:

  • The Fecal Immunochemical test, also known as the FIT test, looks for blood in the stool. This test cam be done once per year.
  • The guaiac-based stool test looks for blood in the stool. This test can be done once per year.
  • The Stool DNA Test looks for DNA from cancer, polyp cells, and blood. This test can be done once every three years.

The key to successfully treating cancer is finding it at an early stage. Talk with your provider about making plans to stay current on your preventive screenings.

By, Coach Sarah

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