Cancer screening refers to tests or procedures designed to look for early signs of cancer. The goal of screening is two-fold: to eliminate cancer as the cause of a particular symptom (for instance, a breast lump) and/or to find a cancer while it is in a potentially curable or treatable state.
The five most commonly prescribed screening tests include:
- Mammograms for breast cancer
- Colonoscopy for colon cancer
- PSA for prostate cancer
- Low dose chest CT scan in high risk individuals for lung cancer
- Skin assessments for skin cancer
Seven Warning Signs of Cancer, C-A-U-T-I-O-N
Many of us have read the seven cancer warning signs and thought, “Oh my goodness! I have every single one!” and have started crossing items off our bucket lists with renewed urgency. The intent of the warning signs, however, is not meant to scare or alarm. The intent is to increase awareness and promote action if necessary.
American Cancer Society addresses the seven warning signs of cancer with the word C-A-U-T-I-O-N:
- C—Change in bowel or bladder habits. This could represent a time of constipation where you once were regular. Or perhaps you’ve noticed an increased frequency of diarrhea which you can’t attribute to food or a stomach bug. Although we all experience fluctuations with bowel patterns, it is a change that doesn’t return to normal that should send up an alert.
- A—A sore that does not heal. Most sores will heal within a week or two if given proper care and not “picked at.” If a sore remains open, irritated or bleeding for more than normal, it’s time to have it investigated.
- U—Unusual bleeding or discharge. Examples of unusual bleeding are if a post-menopausal woman notices vaginal bleeding again or if there is new bleeding from an unusual place.
- T—Thickening or lump in the breast, testicles, or elsewhere.
- I—Indigestion or difficulty swallowing. Spicy foods, coffee, or peppers are just a few foods that can cause indigestion. Occasional sore throats can also make swallowing difficult. However, if these symptoms persist or cause you to lose weight because you can’t eat, a visit to your doctor is in order.
- N—Nagging cough or hoarseness. We all experience an occasional cough or hoarseness with sickness or allergies, but a continued cough or hoarseness may mean something more serious.