Cancer is one of those diseases that strike fear into a lot of people, and as you grow older, your risk often grows much higher. While doctors may not know how to truly cure cancer yet, there are plenty of things you can do to reduce your risk. You can also get screened in order to identify early signs of cancer so you can begin treatment.
Mammograms are used to screen women for breast cancer. While all women should be doing regular self-examinations, mammograms are an x-ray of breast tissue that can identify early signs of breast cancer long before tumors can be felt as part of a self-examination. The earlier breast cancer is caught, the easier the treatment will be and the more likely you are to have a successful recovery. While they can be uncomfortable, mammograms are a quick exam, so it isn’t much of a burden to get a mammogram. It is recommended that women over 40 have a mammogram once a year, but it isn’t a bad idea to get one before you turn 40, especially if breast cancer runs in your family.
Colonoscopies can be used to diagnose a variety of intestinal issues, but it is also good for screening for cancer. A colonoscopy is essential for detecting colon cancer. Most doctors recommend that you have a colonoscopy every 10 years once you turn 45 to check for colon cancer, unless you have a high-risk factor.
If you are at a higher risk, your doctor may recommend you get screened more often. To prepare for a colonoscopy, you need to eat a special diet and take a laxative to clear out your system. During the exam, the doctor will insert the colonoscope into your rectum and use it to screen for any issues.
The pap test is used to screen women for cervical cancer. While the HPV vaccine has been instrumental in reducing the rate of cervical cancer by reducing HPV, this is still a common form of cancer that should be screened for regularly. As known as a pap smear, pap tests are performed by a gynecologist. They are usually included in a pelvic exam and involve the gynecologist taking samples of cells in your cervix and analyzing them for any changes that may indicate signs of cancer. Your gynecologist can recommend how often you should have a pap smear, based on your risk factors, but a general rule of thumb is that you should have a pap test every 5 years.
While some of these screenings may be uncomfortable, it is important that you don’t skip over them, so that you can catch any warning signs early on. Early intervention can make a huge difference in your treatment and make it easier to eventually beat your cancer into remission.
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