Screening for cancer is vital in helping doctors find and treat several types of cancer early, even if symptoms are still invisible. Early detection is important because it may make the cancer easier to treat. If treatment begins only when symptoms appear, cancer may have spread already, making it harder to treat. Several screening tests have been shown to detect cancer early and to reduce the chance of dying from that cancer.
Read these articles to learn about some cancer screening types:
According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 7 men will have a diagnosis of prostate cancer in their lifetime. There are two main tests commonly used to screen for prostate cancer: the digital rectal exam (DRE) and the prostate-specific antigen test (PSA). Neither test can confirm prostate cancer, but they can reveal strong signs that a man has a prostate problem and requires further testing such as a prostate biopsy.
During a skin cancer screening, your skin is visually inspected by a medical professional. No blood work is conducted at a screening. Getting a skin cancer screening is important because it is the most common cancer in the United States. There are many different types of skin cancer, including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma. With early detection and proper treatment, the cure rate for BCC and SCC is about 95 percent. When melanoma is detected before it spreads, it also has a high cure rate.
An imaging test lets doctors see what is happening inside your body. The images that are from this test show how your insides look and work so that health care providers can see if there are any changes that may be caused by diseases like cancer.
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray that allows doctors to look for changes in breast tissue. This allows doctors to find or detect breast cancer early, making treatment much easier. Click here to learn how to prepare for a mammogram.
An ultrasound helps doctors look for tumors in certain areas of the body that don’t show up well on x-rays. They’re often done as an outpatient and are usually quick.
MRI helps doctors find cancer in the body and look for signs that it has spread. It can also help doctors plan cancer treatment, like surgery or radiation. Getting an MRI is painless, but it is important to tell your doctor and the technologist (the person who does the test) if you have any metal in your body.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women (not counting skin cancer), and is by far the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast, and prostate cancers combined. X-rays produce shadow-like images of bones and certain organs and tissues. They are very good at finding bone problems and can show some organs and soft tissues. X-rays are fast, easy to get, and cost less than other scans, so they might be used to get information quickly.
Colonoscopy is a procedure a doctor uses to look at the inside of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope (a skinny, long, flexible tube with a small video camera on the end). It is put in through the anus and into the rectum and colon. This test can be used to screen for colorectal cancer, and can also prevent some colorectal cancers, by finding and removing polyps (growths on the inner lining) before they turn into cancer.