Cancer screenings are a great tool to use to monitor your health and changes within your body. Screenings and early detection save lives and are key ingredients to managing your health. The team at Trade Winds Family Medicine conducts a variety of cancer screenings based upon your age and gender. To learn more, visit the office for a consultation. Call today at (808) 263-7383.
Cancer screenings Question & Answer
A cancer screening is a test that checks for the presence of cancer. Screenings are used as a preventive healthcare measure and play a pivotal role in early detection.
Some cancer screenings include:
A mammogram is an imaging test for breast cancer. How often you need a mammogram depends on your age and risk factors for breast cancer.
For women in their 40s who are at average risk for breast cancer, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends a mammogram every one to two years. Lower risk women may begin routine mammogram screening for average-risk women ages 40-49 to be recommended every 1-2 years. For some who may be at higher risk than average, it may include an annual exam.
For women aged 50-74, we recommend screening every year.
For women aged >74, mammogram is recommended for as long as it is desired.
This test detects changes in the cells of your cervix that could lead to cervical cancer. How often you need it depends upon your age, prior pap results, and the type of screening test used. It generally begins at 21 and ends at 65, but could extend beyond 65 based upon an individual’s risk factors.
Medical guidelines recommend screening for colon cancer starting at age 45, instead of waiting until 50, per the American Cancer Society.
Reasons to screen early
- Colon cancer is increasing in younger adults
- In a study of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer, 1 in 7 was under the age of 50
- When caught in early stages, colon cancer is more treatable
A colonoscopy is where the doctor looks inside your rectum and colon using a scope. It has the advantage of potential removal of a precancerous polyp before it has an opportunity to develop into cancer. This procedure requires some preparation from the patient as well as anesthesia. It is the most thorough screening.
Newer technology is the Cologuard test, which evaluates for cancer DNA markers and for the presence of blood in your stool. It may not catch a pre-cancerous polyp, but it is an option that is not invasive and does not require anesthesia. Cologuard is only indicated if you have a low risk of colon cancer before testing.
Another type of screening for colon cancer is non-specific and requires a fecal smear on a card, either collected at office or at home, and then tested for hidden blood.
The providers at Trade Winds Family Medicine can perform in-office colon cancer screenings and can provide referrals for Cologuard and colonoscopy. Your provider may recommend a particular method of screening based on whether you had abnormal readings from previous screenings or if you have a family history or high risk of colon cancer.
In average-risk men, we initiate discussion of prostate cancer screening at age 50 years. For other men at higher risk for prostate cancer, including Black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, we suggest initiating discussion of screening at age 40 to 45 years. Screening consists of a PSA blood test, and may be done every one to two years. For most patients, we offer screening up to age 70 years of age, but it may be appropriate for some men to stop screening earlier, or to continue for longer.
A physical examination is usually offered by the providers at a well woman visit. During the exam, the healthcare provider checks for lumps or changes in and around the breast tissue.
Screening for these three types of cancers can be difficult if the patient does not have any symptoms. If you have a family history of these types of cancers or start to develop symptoms like unusual vaginal discharge or bleeding, your provider may recommend doing an ultrasound or biopsy.
If a particular cancer runs in your family, it may put you at a higher risk of developing that type of cancer yourself. It’s important to share this information with your doctor as part of your medical history. Some patients choose to have genetic testing done to measure whether they have specific tendencies towards certain diseases or cancers.
The professional team at Trade Winds Family Medicine can guide you through this process, and when appropriate, refer you to a genetic counselor that can help you better understand your genetic testing results and how to use that information to make informed health decisions as it pertains to cancer screenings and risks.
If you have questions or concerns about cancer, contact Trade Winds Family Medicine, conveniently located in the Aikahi section of Kailua. Call to book your appointment today.