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What Is Cancer Screening ?

Cancer screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms.
There are different kinds of screening tests.

Screening tests have risks :

– Some screening tests can cause serious problems.
– False-positive test results are possible.
– False-negative test results are possible.
– Finding the cancer may not improve the person’s health or help the person live longer.

Screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage, before symptoms appear. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat or cure. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have grown and spread. This can make the cancer harder to treat or cure.

It is important to remember that when your doctor suggests a screening test, it does not always mean he or she thinks you have cancer. Screening tests are done when you have no cancer symptoms.

There are different kinds of screening tests.

Screening tests include the following:

– Physical examand history : An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
– Laboratory tests Medical procedures that test samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body.
– Imaging procedures Procedures that make pictures of areas inside the body.
– Genetic tests Tests that look for certain gene mutations that are linked to some types of cancer.

Breast Cancer Screening

Three tests are used by health care providers to screen for breast cancer:

Mammogram :

Mammography is the most common screening test for breast cancer. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast. This test may find tumors that are too small to feel.

Mammograms are less likely to find breast tumors in women younger than 50 years than in older women. This may be because younger women have denser breast tissue that appears white on a mammogram.

The following may affect whether a mammogram is able to detect (find) breast cancer:

The size of the tumor.
How dense the breast tissue is.
The skill of the radiologist.

Clinical breast exam (CBE)

A clinical breast exam is an exam of the breast by a doctor or other health professional. The doctor will carefully feel the breasts and under the arms for lumps or anything else that seems unusual. It is not known if having clinical breast exams decreases the chance of dying from breast cancer.

Breast self-exams may be done by women or men to check their breasts for lumps or other changes. It is important to know how your breasts usually look and feel. If you feel any lumps or notice any other changes, talk to your doctor. Doing breast self-exams has not been shown to decrease the chance of dying from breast cancer.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) in women with a high risk of breast cancer

MRI is used as a screening test for women who have one or more of the following:

Certain genechanges, such as in the BRCA1 or BRCA2
A family history(first degree relative, mother, daughter or sister) with breast cancer.
Certain genetic syndromes.

Colorectal Cancer Screening :

Colorectal cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the colon or the rectum.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in the United States.
Different factors increase or decrease the risk of getting colorectal cancer.
– Colon cancer screening is recommended starting at age 50 or earlier if you have certain risk factors including family history of Colon cancer or genetic predisposition for colon cancer.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the cervix. The cervix is the lower, narrow end of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The cervix leads from the uterus to the vagina (birth canal).

The Pap test is used to detect cancer and changes that may lead to cancer. The chance of death from cervical cancer increases with age.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the major risk factor for cervical cancer. Although most women with cervical cancer have the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection, not all women with an HPV infection will develop cervical cancer. Many different types of HPV can affect the cervix and only some of them cause abnormal cells that may become cancer. Some HPV infections go away without treatment.

A Pap test is commonly used to screen for cervical cancer. After certain positive Pap test results, an HPV test may be done.

The Pap test is not a helpful screening test for cervical cancer in the following groups of women:

Women who are younger than 21 years.
– Women who have had a total hysterectomy(surgery to remove the uterus and cervix) for a condition that is not cancer.
– Women who are aged 65 years or older and have a Pap test result that shows no abnormal cells. These women are very unlikely to have abnormal Pap test results in the future.