Top 5 Cancer Screenings That Can Save Your Life This Year
Wellness

Top 5 Cancer Screenings That Can Save Your Life This Year

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As we usher in the new year, it’s a time for reflection, resolutions, and most importantly, taking charge of our health. One crucial goal that should top everyone’s list is scheduling screenings for cancer. 

It’s not the nicest thing in the world to think about, but regular cancer screening plays a pivotal role in early detection. Early detection is key for enhancing treatment success, and ultimately reducing the incidence of late-stage cancer. 

With this in mind, here are the five most important cancer screenings that can save your life. 

Mammogram

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. This allows doctors to identify early signs of breast cancer, which can get very serious very quickly. On the other hand, as with most forms of cancer, early detection is key and dramatically increases your chances of survival. The American Cancer Society provides guidelines for women at average risk:

  • Women aged 40 to 44 can start annual mammograms.
  • Women aged 45 to 54 should undergo annual mammograms.
  • Women aged 55 and older can choose annual or biennial mammograms if in good health.
  • Patients at higher risk (for example, a family history of breast cancer) should also undergo additional evaluations like ultrasound and MRI.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer screening involves tests such as HPV testing and Pap smear, both of which can detect early signs of cervical cancer. Screening usually begins after the age of 18, with the frequency determined by the doctor based on the patient’s age. Cervical cancer is less prevalent now thanks to the HPV vaccine, but all women should get screened for it. 

Colorectal Screenings

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends colorectal cancer screening for men and women aged 45 to 75. It’s certainly not fun, but it could save your life. A colonoscopy is a commonly used preventive screening method. This can detect polyps or cancer during the procedure, which allows for removal before they become more serious. Screening intervals depend on individual and familial risk factors.

Prostate Cancer Screening

Fortunately, prostate cancer screening isn’t what it used to be. A simple prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test can help detect prostate cancer without an uncomfortable direct examination. Screening discussions should start at:

  • Age 50 for average-risk men.
  • Age 45 for high-risk men, including African Americans and those with a family history.
  • Age 40 for men with multiple first-degree relatives diagnosed early.

Lung Cancer Screening

For individuals meeting specific criteria, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends annual lung cancer screening through low-dose computed tomography (LDCT). So if you have a smoking history of 20 pack-years or more, current or former smoking within the past 15 years, or are between 50 and 80 years of age, you should talk to your doctor about a lung cancer screening.

Finding Screening Options

Primary care or family doctors typically refer individuals for screenings. Mammography and lung cancer screening are performed in imaging centers, colonoscopies in hospitals or outpatient settings, and PSA testing in clinics. The American Cancer Society can provide information on screening options, and timing, and help locate providers in your area.

Prioritizing health in the new year involves proactive steps, and cancer screenings are a crucial component of preventive care. By considering these top five cancer screenings in 2024 and staying informed about recommended guidelines, individuals can take charge of their well-being, fostering early detection and enhancing the potential for curative options. Make health a priority this year – schedule your screenings and empower yourself to live a healthier, happier life.

Do you have any cancer screenings scheduled? Are you going to schedule them now that you’ve read this? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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