It may feel like we are losing control of many important things lately, but one thing we can be proactive about is our health and staying healthy. Cancer can sneak up on us when we are not paying attention, don’t know what to look for, or skip screenings. If you want to be in control, recognize the importance of screening and early detection.
The purpose of screenings is to detect cancer before you have any symptoms. This makes it easier to treat and improves your chances of survival. This should be a top priority for all of us especially if we have cancer in our family. There are different standards for different types of cancer, so we will review them here.
This article might be an invaluable tool for you and your family. All the guidelines are per the American Cancer Society. Print it out and refer to it especially as we begin a new year.
These should be done yearly if you currently smoke or stopped smoking within 15 years, or if you are in relatively good health and age 55 to 74, and have a history of at least a 30 pack year.
As explanation: A pack-year is 1 pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.
Discuss with your physician your smoking history and your personal risk factors.
If you are a woman between the ages of 40 to 44 you can start annual mammograms if you wish to do so. A woman 45 to 54 should get annual mammograms. If you are older than 55, you can switch having a mammogram to every 2 years, or you can continue annual screening.
Continue screening as long as you are in good health and are expected to live another 10 years.
It is important to report any changes in your breasts to Weirton Medical Center.
If you are at risk for this cancer, begin screening at age 45 with a stool based test or a colonoscopy. These screenings should continue every 10 years until age 75 unless there are changes or bowel habits.
Age 76 to 85 consult with Weirton Medical Center.
Start screening at age 25. Between 25 and 65 get an HPV (human papillomavirus) test every 5 years, OR a co-test HPV with a Pap test every 5 years, or only a Pap test every 3 years.
Once you reach age 65 you no longer need screening if you have had normal results for the past 10 years. Anyone with a history of pre-cancer should continue to be tested for 25 years.
Talk with Weirton Medical Center after menopause.
At age 50, men should discuss with their physician about the pros and cons of testing. If your sibling or father had prostate cancer, or if you are an African American, discuss at age 45.
When in doubt or if you notice any symptoms, consult with Weirton Medical Center as soon as possible.
For further questions or to schedule an appointment, please call (304) 797-6DOC today.