Screening is the Key to Early Detection

Screening is the Key to Early Detection

According to the American Cancer Society, screening increases the chances of catching certain cancers early, when they are most likely to be treated successfully. 1 In 2018, more than 600,000 people were expected to die from cancer. Yet, many of those lives could be saved through screening and earlier detection.1,2

December 3-7, 2018, is Cancer Screen Week. The goal: to both ensure you’re armed with information you need to know about cancer screenings and connect you with resources that may help you and your loved ones.

Who should get screened?

Screenings help find certain cancers early, when they are more treatable. Screenings do not in themselves reduce your risk of getting cancer. Many of the common cancers have recommended guidelines for those who are considered most at-risk.

Breast Cancer

A regular mammogram is one of the most important things a woman can do to find breast cancer early – when it’s small, hasn’t spread, and may be easier to treat.6, 7

  • Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
  • Women ages 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
  • Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every two years, or can continue yearly screening.
  • A small percentage of women are at a higher risk for breast cancer and should be screened using MRIs along with mammograms.

Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.

Colorectal Cancer

A colonoscopy not only screens for cancer; if pre-cancerous polyps are found at an early stage, they can be removed, which prevents cancer.9,10

  • Men and women 50 or older should be screened regularly for colorectal cancer. There are several effective tests available.
  • Men and women at high risk may need to start screening at a younger age and have it more frequently.11

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer can often be found early using a simple blood test, but it’s not clear if the benefits of testing all men for prostate cancer outweigh the risks, such as finding (and treating) cancers that probably never would have caused any problems.11

  • Starting at age 50, men should talk to a health care provider about the pros and cons of testing, so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them.11
  • African American men or men who have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65 should discuss prostate cancer screening with a healthcare provider starting at age 45.11

Cervical Cancer

The Pap test can help catch cervical cancer early, when it’s small and may be easier to treat. It can also prevent cervical cancer by finding pre-cancerous cells so they can be treated before they become cancer. The human papillomavirus (HPV) test finds HPV infections which may increase the risk of cervical cancer.8 Even if a woman has gotten the HPV vaccine, she still needs to get regular Pap and HPV tests.

  • All women should begin cervical cancer screening at age 21.
  • Women aged 21-29 should have a Pap test every three years.
  • Women over 30 should get an HPV test done at the same time as their Pap test. They should have these tests every five years.
  • Women over age 65 who have had regular screening in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer.

Lung Cancer

Lung screening is done with an annual low-dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest.12 Screening can help find cancer early, when it’s small and may be easier to treat.1

  • Screening is recommended for people 55 to 74 years of age who are in good health and have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history (A pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.)
  • AND are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years.12

Skin Cancer

Some people have a higher risk of getting skin cancer than others, but anyone can get melanoma and other types of skin cancer. Although the American Cancer Society does not have screening guidelines for skin cancer, knowing your own skin is important to finding skin cancer early.13

  • Know the pattern of moles, blemishes, freckles, and other marks on your skin to notice any new moles or changes in existing moles.
  • Regular skin exams by a healthcare professional are especially important for those who are at higher risk of melanoma, such as those with
    • many unusual moles
    • a strong family history of melanoma
    • a history of melanoma

Get Involved. Get Screened!

  • Talk to your oncology nurse navigator to find out what cancer screening tests may be right for you.
  • Make an appointment to talk to your doctor, and be sure to discuss any personal and/or family history of cancer or abnormal findings.
  • Contact your HR/Benefits representative to learn more about what screening tests are covered as part of your benefits plan.
  • Spread the word about Cancer Screen Week, and be a part of this collective effort to save more lives from cancer.

Everyone can play a role in the fight against cancer.

1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2018. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2018. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 2. National Cancer Institute. Cancer Screening Overview (PDQ®) Health Professional Version. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Screening Guidelines 2017. Available at Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 4. National Cancer Institute Trends Progress Report. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy People 2020. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 6. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 7. American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Screening Resources. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 8. American Cancer Society. How to Prevent Cervical Cancer or Find it Early. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 9. American Cancer Society. Five Myths About Colorectal Cancer. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 10. American Cancer Society. Can Colorectal Polyps and Cancer Be Found Early? Available at: cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/detection.html. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 11. American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer. Available at: find-cancer-early/cancer-screening-guidelines/american-cancer-society-guidelines-for-the-early-detection-of-cancer.html. Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 12. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final Recommendations Statement Lung Cancer: Screening. Available at: Accessed Jan. 8, 2018. 13. American Cancer Society. Can Melanoma Skin Cancer Be Found Early? Accessed Jan. 8, 2018.

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