When it comes to cancer, early detection is the best approach. Identifying signs and symptoms early — like a lump for breast cancer — is a good strategy. But there’s a better one: Finding cancer before it even causes symptoms.
That’s where screening comes in. A cancer screening is a test for people who are at risk of a specific cancer, even if they’re healthy and have no symptoms.
Cure rates tend to be high — often above 90% — when cancer is caught quickly. But it can be very hard to get rid of cancer after it’s spread.
Even though these screening tests can spot cancer early, they carry potential risks and costs.
So it doesn’t make sense for everyone to get them.
Medical researchers have identified the people for whom the benefits of screening outweigh the risks. For each of the four following cancers, we’ll identify who should get screened and how they should do it.
Mammograms for Breast Cancer
The mammogram is perhaps the most well-known cancer screening test. It’s fast, easy, inexpensive and painless.
Who Needs Screenings: Women ages 50 to 74. (Talk to your doctor about whether you have risk factors that suggest you should get screened earlier.)
What They Should Do: Get a mammogram every two years.
Pap Smear for Cervical Cancer
In a Pap smear, a brush or spatula is used to remove cells from the cervix. Follow-up testing reveals whether abnormal cells (that could lead to cancer) are present.
A Pap smear shouldn’t be painful, but it may be uncomfortable.
Who Needs Screenings: Women ages 21 to 65.
What They Should Do: Get a Pap smear once every three years.
Colonoscopy or Alternatives for Colorectal Cancer
A colonoscopy involves the use of a narrow, flexible tube with a camera that’s used to inspect the colon for cancer. A colonoscopy is particularly effective because it allows doctors to find and remove polyps, the small growths that can evolve into cancer.
You should also ask your doctor about other colorectal cancer screening tests.
Who Needs Screenings: Most adults between the ages of 50 and 75. (Some people with certain risk factors may need to start screening sooner.)
What They Should Do: Get a colonoscopy every 10 years.
AdventHealth has cutting-edge technology and experienced experts who are ready to provide the most effective cancer treatment possible. AdventHealth also wants you to take the proactive steps to get screened. It could save your life.