Those who smoke tobacco on a daily basis are putting themselves at risk of cancer.
Cancer is definitely not good news. But there is good news in the vicinity. For some of the most common types of Cancer, there are early screening tests that can help detect the disease in an early stage. When detected earlier, there is more scope for treatment, which increases chances of survival. Now that is definitely good news. You know you are at the best hospital for Cancer treatment when it comes to being fully equipped with screening tests to diagnose the disease and modes of treatment to help remove/ retard the growth of the tumour.
WHAT IS CANCER SCREENING?
Cancer screening is basically a set of tests done on healthy individuals to find out if a person has cancer. Screening is essentially done even before a person shows symptoms. When your doctor suggests that you do a cancer screening test it does not mean that he thinks you have cancer, but you probably fall in a category that puts you at risk.
WHO NEEDS A CANCER SCREENING TEST?
While anyone above the age of 40 can get tested for cancers that affect older people, there are certain other factors that put you at risk of the disease. This includes:
- Having a personal history of cancer.
- Having a family history of cancer also calls for a screening test. If a close blood relative (mother, father, especially) has had cancer, the doctor will suggest a screening test.
- Certain Gene mutations are also known to cause cancer. If these mutations are detected in family members with cancer, close relatives may require periodic screening.
- Exposure to harmful gases or chemicals can lead to cancer. People who work around cancer causing chemicals, must consult with the doctor and find out how to protect themselves and how often they need cancer screening tests.
- Those who smoke tobacco on a daily basis are putting themselves at risk of cancer.
- If you get a blood clot for no reason, your doctor may recommend a cancer screening test.
TYPES OF CANCER SCREENING TESTS
- Physical Exam: Here the doctor will run a thorough check-up of your body looking for lumps or swellings or anything out of the ordinary.
- Laboratory Tests: Tissue samples, blood samples and urine samples are taken and sent to the laboratory for testing.
- Imaging: You will be asked to get a body scan to get an in depth look at areas inside of your body.
SOME RECOMMENDED TESTS FOR SPECIFIC TYPES OF CANCERS:
- Breast Cancer:
- A mammogram is the best test to detect breast cancer.
- A mammogram is basically an x-ray of the breasts.
- Women above 45 must get a mammogram done every year.
- Women between 25 & 45 must monitor changes in the shape and texture of their breasts. If they notice anything odd, consulting with the doctor is imperative.
- Cervical Cancer:
- A Pap Smear Test and a Human papillomavirus (HPV) test is done to detect Cervical cancer.
- Women should do their first Pap Test at the age of 21 and then depending on the result the doctor will suggest when the next test should be done.
- The HPV test comes into play only in women aged 35 and above.
- After 65 years of age, testing for Cervical cancer is not required if all screening studies until now have come back negative.
- Colon Cancer:
- Usually screening for Colon Cancer needs to be done after the age of 45.
- Those who are at risk of Colon Cancer need to get screened at an earlier age.
- A Stool test is the basic test done to check for colon cancer.
- The doctor may also need to look for polyps in the rectum and colon through a Colonoscopy or a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy.
- Lung Cancer:
- If you have a history of heavy smoking, lung cancer screening is helpful.
- If you have quit smoking within the last 15 years, even so you are still at risk. Screening for lung cancer is a good choice.
- Lung Cancer screening is generally recommended for those between the age 55 to 80.
- The recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (LDCT), where an X-ray machine uses a small amount of radiation to make detailed images of your lungs.
Those in the high-risk category must get an LDCT annually.
- Prostate Cancer:
- Screening for Prostate Cancer is controversial.
- Men aged 45 and above can be considered screening.
- Digital rectal examination is a test in which the doctor feels the surface of the prostate through the bowel wall for any irregularities.
- PSA blood test is useful for detecting early-stage prostate cancer, but it may also find very-slow-growing harmless prostate cancers. Hence the doctor is the best judge on whether a person needs a PSA test or not.
- Lung Cancer:
- A yearly examination of the oral cavity by a trained health care worker can help detect cancers of the oral cavity at an early stage.
If you fall into a category of individuals that are at the risk of a certain type of cancer, your doctor will recommend an appropriate screening test other than the ones mentioned above. Once you hit 30, it’s best to visit your doctor to find out what health issues you need to be alert about and how best to prevent them from taking over your life.
CONSULTANT – MEDICAL ONCOLOGY
MBBS, MD (INTERNAL MEDICINE), DM (MEDICAL ONCOLOGY)