Almost every month of the year has been designated an awareness month for a certain type of cancer. In February, we celebrate national cancer prevention month. While some cancers are rarely detected prior to their beginning, there are several cancers that can be prevented or caught in the early stages through screening and routine care. As medical technology continues to improve, so does our cancer screening. In addition, cancer guidelines are continually updating to provide the best care for all individuals, as we all have risks of developing cancer. Here are examples of some of the screening guidelines that everyone should follow.
Breast Cancer is one of the highest risk cancers to women and is also a risk in men. For women at average risk of breast cancer, they should consider the option of screening with a mammogram between the ages of 40 and 44. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every other year. For women at high risk of breast cancer, it is recommended to consider breast MRI and mammogram every year typically starting before age 30. These women often have a known breast cancer gene mutation, have a family history of breast cancer, had radiation therapy to the chest between the ages of 10 and 30 years, or have a genetic condition that gives them an increased risk of breast cancer.
Colon Cancer can often be prevented through a colonoscopy procedure. For individuals with an average risk of colon cancer, it is recommended to have a colonoscopy starting at the age of 45. For people with a high risk of colon cancer, it is recommended to get a colonoscopy at a younger age. People at high risk for colon cancer often have a personal history of colon cancer or polyps, a family history of colon cancer, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, a hereditary cancer syndrome, or a personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen.
Prostate Cancer is a topic that health care providers should discuss with all men. For men at average risk, a blood test to analyze the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) should begin at age 50. To date, research has not yet proven that the benefits of doing prostate screening outweigh the potential harms. If you are African American, you should begin discussing the option of prostate cancer screening at age 45. In addition, men who have a father or brother diagnosed with prostate cancer should also start prostate cancer screening at age 45.
Cervical Cancer screening is relatively uncomplicated and should begin for all women starting at the age of 25. For women between the ages of 25 and 65 a Pap test should be completed every 3 years or a primary HPV test completed every 5 years.
Endometrial Cancer is primarily detected through monitoring symptoms. When women reach menopause, they should discuss with their healthcare provider about the risks and signs of endometrial cancer. For some women with a family history, personal history, or inherited cancer syndrome, they should consider the option of a yearly endometrial biopsy.
If you have a personal or family history of cancer and would like to discuss your risks and what you can do to prevent cancer, please contact AT-GC to meet with a genetic counselor.