Here at the UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center we are keeping tabs on all and everything cancer-related. In honor of those affected by cancer, we wanted to remind you that February is National Cancer Awareness Month. We want to be proactive with saving lives and reminding others of the importance of cancer screenings.
By seeing your doctor for a cancer screening, early detection is the best weapon you have to surviving cancer. Early detection can be seen without noticing external or internal issues. Screening allows for physicians to find and treat cancer early before the spread happens. There are different kinds of screening and symptoms for multiple cancers and typically the most common kinds are breast, cervical, colon/rectal and lung, along with many others. Here is a look at the different types of screenings and guidelines.
Screening methods for breast cancer typically include clinical breast examinations along with mammography and other imaging as well. Women over the age of 40 should continue to have yearly breast examinations with good health. Women in their 20s and 30s should be examined every three years and women over 40 should be examined every year. Also self-breast examinations should be a routine for women ages 20 and up. If you notice any lumps in your breasts during a self-exam, call your physician right away.
UAB recommends women should have cervical cancer screenings no later than the age of 21. Women should have a Pap smear done every year in order to detect cervical cancer. Beginning at age 30, women who have had three normal Pap tests in a row should be tested every 2 to 3 years. Some women who have had exposure to diethylstilbestrol (DES), HIV infection or weakened immune system due to a surgery should be screened annually. Talk to your doctor today about getting a check-up if you’re a little behind or having concerns.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Both women and men are at average risk of colorectal cancer and should be screened beginning at the age of 50. Types of colorectal screenings include: flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, double contrast barium enema, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and stool DNA test (sDNA). People with certain health issues such as personal history of colorectal cancer, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, and/or family history of colorectal cancer should be checked earlier and more often than the age of 50. Call your doctor if you think you might subject to this cancer or recall having family history of such.
Lung cancer is the scary cancer for the smokers of the world. Many people subject to lung cancer are ages 55-74, are in fairly good health, have a 30 pack-year smoking history, and are still smoking or quit within the last 15 years. Your physician should talk to you about the benefits, limitations and harms that lung cancer screenings may cause you. When having a screening, make sure you are going to a facility with the proper CT scanning equipment and can inform you of their findings once you have the screening done.
With February being National Cancer Awareness Month, it is hard to touch on every cancer out there, but these mentioned above are some of the more common types of cancer, and we want you to be aware and proactive. You can always find more information online through a variety of resources, including the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society or our website. Remember to stay healthy, eat the right foods, and stay in touch with your physician about any concerns you might have.