Cancer Screening Tests

If you are organising your health to-do list for this year, this cancer screening guide will help you catch the disease early in its track and treat it with the relevant treatment before it becomes fatal. Here are some essential cancer screening tests that every woman must get done.

Breast Cancer

A simple screening test can be used to find this type of cancer. Sometimes a lump can be too small for your home inspections and require medical diagnosis. If left untreated, cancer can spread to other parts of your body. Breast cancer can be diagnosed with a simple Mammogram and it is the most common test used by doctors nowadays. The mammogram utilises the X-ray technology to take the pictures inside your breasts. A 3D mammogram takes pictures not from one but several angles and positions to make it easier for the doctor to diagnose the disease.

Most health platforms discredit home breast exams as small lumps can be easily missed. According to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), women over the age of 50 should get a mammogram every year while American Cancer Society contends that every woman over 45 should have a mammogram once a year. If you have a family history of breast cancer or have a higher risk due to other medical conditions, talk to your doctor about how often you need to get mammograms.

Lung Cancer

It is one of the deadliest cancers, which affects millions of women in the world and is primarily caused by smoking. If you smoke regularly, you must not miss this screening test. Doctors usually diagnose or test for lung cancer by a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan, which uses X-rays to take continuous images of your lungs. You lie down on your back and raise your arms above your head as the table takes you through a scanner in an easy process. During the test, you are required to hold your breath for at least 5 seconds. It is essential to have a lung-screening test if you are 55-80 years old, smoke now, smoked in the past 15 years, or smoked at least one pack a day for 30 years.

Colorectal Cancer

This cancer originates within a growth in your colon called polyps. Colon is a part of the digestive system and screening tests are the key to finding these growths before they turn into cancer. The doctor can recommend one or a combination of tests to diagnose colorectal cancer or polyp growth. Colonoscopy is the most common type of test which is used for this purpose. In this test, the doctor examines your entire colon and rectum with a help of a camera attached to the end of a flexible tube. To prepare for this exam, you will need to consume only liquids for two days prior to your exam and during this exam you will be treated with anaesthesia. If a doctor spots a polyp during this exam, they will remove it and send it to the lab for cancer diagnosis.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is also used for diagnosing colorectal cancer and is quite similar to colonoscopy, but is less thorough. This 20-minute test requires less preparation as the doctor checks only a small part of your colon. Another way to find out polyps is taking high-sensitivity faecial occult blood tests (FOBT), which is essentially a test in which blood is detected in the bowel movement. It is used to detect blood, which can bleed from cancers in the colon and rectum. If you are between the ages of 50 to 75, get a colorectal cancer screening test. However, if you are between the ages of 75-85, inquire about the risk. Here is what the USPSTF recommends:

  • Colonoscopy once every 10 years
  • FOBT once a year
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy after every 5 years, in addition to FOBT every 3 years

Cervical Cancer

It originates in the cells of the cervix, which is the lower part of your uterus. It can gradually transform into cancer if they are not detected and treated. Pap tests are usually used for diagnosing this cancer and are used to find any abnormal cells in the cervix. Human papilloma virus (HPV) test is also done in addition to the Pap test to see if you are also infected with HIV Virus, which is one of causes of cervical cancer. Pap test must be conducted after every 3 years if you lie in the age group 20-65. However, if you are 30-65 years of age, get a Pap and HIV test every 5 years.

Skin Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, regular skin checks are the most efficient way to find skin cancers. During these skin examinations, a doctor will look for any abnormal mole, growth or discolouration that might look like cancer. These skin examinations must be done every month to see if there are any changes.