In recent times, we are at a greater risk of developing cancer at some point in our life. According to research, the number of cancer patients is increasing every year.
To counter this, medical science is developing newer medicines and treatments to help us overcome this disease. And one of the best ways is early detection.
As the saying goes, ‘Precaution is better than cure.’This holds true for cancer. With cancer screening tests, we can detect cancer at an early stage when they are more treatable.
Cancer screening tests look for cancer in healthy people or in people who do not have any signs or symptoms of cancer.
Benefits of regular cancer screening
- It helps to prevent cancer by detecting changes in your body that could become cancer if left untreated.
- It helps find cancer before it spreads and is easier to treat.
- Some screening tests help lower the mortality rate from certain cancers, such as mammography for breast cancer, colonoscopy for colon cancer, and pap smear for cervical cancer.
- Early detection betters your chances of survival.
- Finding cancer at an early stage requires less treatment, and the recovery is also quicker.
Different types of cancer screening test
Most oncologistsfirmly believe that we all should undergo regular cancer screening as early detection lowers the chances of dying from the disease.
Some of the screening tests that are known to reduce cancer deaths are:
Mammography – It isused to detect breast cancer. It is known to reduce the mortality rate among women aged 40-74.
Colonoscopy – This test, along with sigmoidoscopy and fecal occult blood tests,helps prevent colorectal cancer.
They can diagnose abnormal growths in the colon, which can be removed before they become cancerous.
Dr. Sandeep Nayak, a renowned surgical oncologist, always recommends people undergo colorectal cancer screening after 50 years.
Pap test and human papillomavirus Testing – These tests help detect cervical cancer. They identify the abnormal cells, which can be treated before they become cancer.
People in the age group of 21 to 65 years should undergo this testing.
Low-dose helical computed tomography – Usually, doctorssuggest this test to heavy smokers who are at greater risk of lung cancer.
Apart from these tests, other cancer screening tests are:
Breast MRI – Women withharmful mutations in the BRCA1 gene and BRCA2 gene are at a greater risk of breast cancer. Doctors often recommend breast MRI for them to detect cancer at an early stage.
PSA test – To diagnose prostate cancer early, the PSA test is done along with a digital rectal exam.
Transvaginal ultrasound – Women at an increased risk of ovarian cancer or endometrial cancer undergo this imaging test, which creates pictures of their ovaries and uterus.
Virtual colonoscopy – Doctors use this test to examine the colon and rectum from the outside.
Alpha-fetoprotein blood test – Sometimes, this test is used in combination with ultrasound to diagnose liver cancer early in people who are at a higher risk.
CA-125 test – Often, this blood test is done with transvaginal ultrasound to detect ovarian cancer.
Skin exams – According to doctors, we all should be aware of the changes in our skin, like a change in the existing mole or getting a new mole, and promptly seek their advice.
Also, we should get our skin examined at regular intervals.
Clinical breast exams and regular self-exam – Periodic examination of the breast by healthcare providers and women themselves helps to detect any lump or changes in the breast early on and help them seek prompt medical care.
Being aware of our body and undergoing routine examinations helps us in detecting cancer at an early stage.