Five Major Cancer Screenings & When You Need to Get Them
World Cancer Day is February 4, and this year’s theme is “I Am and I Will.” From the personal to the global scale, all actions have an impact. A cancer-free world begins with creating cancer prevention awareness and taking action. One of the best things you can do to take action is be a proactive patient. Cancer screenings are an essential part of annual wellness exams for men and women of all ages. Cancer screenings allow you to diagnose and treat cancers in their early stages to prolong your life and reduce the amount of treatment needed. Below, Pegalis Law Group, LLC outlines five major cancer screenings and when you must start getting them.
1. Breast and Cervical Cancer (Women Age 25 and Up)
Pap smears and HPV tests are recommended to screen for cervical cancer for all women with a cervix beginning at age 25. The American Cancer Society recommends getting a Pap test every three years or a combination Pap/HPV test at least every five years. Cervical cancer claims the lives of thousands of women every year. However, increased awareness and more widespread usage of the Pap test has seen the cervical cancer death rate dropping significantly in recent years.
Breast cancer claims the lives of thousands of women in the United States per year. It’s estimated one out of every eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer within her lifetime. Many women don’t need annual breast cancer screenings (mammograms) until around the age of 40. However, it’s essential to self-check your breasts and report any noticeable changes to your doctor immediately. Women with a higher risk or a family history of breast cancer may want to begin testing regularly in their 20s or 30s.
2. Prostate Cancer (Men Age 45 and Up)
Prostate cancer is among the leading causes of cancer death in U.S. men. Most men should begin prostate cancer screenings around the age of 45. However, men with a family history of prostate cancer (a first-degree relative or at least two extended family members) or who are considered to be at a higher-than-average risk may wish to begin screening in their 20s or 30s. Talk to your doctor.
3. Colorectal Cancer (Men and Women Age 45 and Up)
Colorectal (colon) cancer kills over 50,000 men and women in the U.S. every year. Men and women typically begin screening for colon cancer around the age of 45 (depending on their risk factors and family history). Different types of stool tests are used to determine the presence of blood in the stool, which is one of the leading symptoms of colon cancer. If anything unusual is found during screening, your doctor may order a follow-up colonoscopy. Discuss what tests are right for you with your doctor.
4. Lung Cancer (Men and Women Age 55 and Up)
Lung cancer is one of the most difficult cancers to diagnose early because many people don’t exhibit any symptoms until it has spread significantly. Annual lung cancer screenings should begin around age 55, or sooner if you have a family history or you’re a regular smoker. Low-dose CAT and CT scans are used to take chest x-rays during lung cancer screenings, which may reveal other abnormalities not linked to cancer. More invasive testing may be required. Always talk to your doctor to see what’s best for you.
5. Throat Cancer (Men and Women Age 20 and Up)
Oral cancer screenings are recommended every three years for most adults between the ages of 20 and 40, as part of their routine checkups with their dentist. Once over the age of 40, the American Dental Association recommends getting checked for oral cancer at least once per year. The most common throat cancer symptoms include numbness, swelling, pain, difficulty chewing or swallowing, or dry, irritated patches in your throat. Contact your dentist immediately if you’ve experienced any of those.
Keeping You Proactive About Your Health for Nearly 50 Years
Practicing for nearly 50 years, Pegalis Law Group, LLC is a New York-based law firm focused on personal injury and medical malpractice cases. We also strive to create public awareness about being proactive patients to ensure safer healthcare practices. Please visit our website and follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to receive additional insights throughout the year.