Don’t Avoid Cancer Screening

To Be Heart Healthy
June 14, 2012
Blood Fats and Stroke Risk
June 23, 2012

The next time a friend, coworker or neighbor asks you (or nags you) about colon cancer screening, breast cancer screening or cervical cancer screening, among others, don’t avoid the question. Just ask them where is the best place to get screened and go ahead and get the test. It can be lifesaving. Testing only takes a few hours out of your day and can add on years to your life.

Colon cancer is the screening test many people are avoiding. It involves drinking a liquid substance about one to two days before the test in order to clean out your bowels. On the day of the test, you need to bring someone with you because you will receive sedation for the test. The test itself takes just 15-30 minutes, depending on how easy your colon is to access and whether or not the doctor needs to take biopsies of polyps or remove polyps. Then you’re done for about ten years.

The test is recommended for everyone at age 50 and every ten years thereafter. The test is recommended to be done sooner if you have a strong family history of colon cancer or symptoms of cancer.

The real question comes down to how lucky you feel. Do you feel lucky enough to skip a test that could actually prevent cancer and save your life?

Breast cancer screening is an even easier test to have. It is recommended at age 40 and is recommended every year (unless you go by the US Preventative Task Force recommendations that start screening at age 50. It involves no preparation and it takes less than 15 minutes to do.

Contrary to rumors, a mammogram really doesn’t hurt much and it’s a pretty accurate test when it comes to identifying cancerous areas of the breast. These areas can be biopsied for breast cancer and can be treated if positive for cancer with a mastectomy or lumpectomy, chemotherapy (sometimes), radiotherapy (sometimes) and hormonal therapy (often).

Cervical cancer screening is done for women who might get cervical cancer. The test is a pap test of the cervix that takes a sampling of the endocervical cells and checks them under the microscope for cervical cancer. The individual can also be tested for Human Papilloma Virus or HPV, which is a risk factor for cervical cancer. Some women get preventative measures in the form of an HPV vaccine, which can prevent infections of HPV that can lead to cancer.