The word cancer strikes fear into anyone being tested for cancer or being given a diagnosis of cancer. Many patients tend to avoid going for cancer screening tests because they are afraid of what these tests might reveal. There are four medical tests that women should not ignore which screen for common cancers. They include a mammogram to screen for breast cancer, a pap smear to screen for cervical cancer, a stool occult blood test and/or a colonoscopy to screen for colon/rectal cancer, and a chest x-ray, chest CT scan to screen for lung cancer.
Once these conditions are diagnosed, early traditional treatment can begin. New cancer treatments are also available due to the help of innovative companies like Hera Biolabs which provides appropriate lab animals for cutting-edge human oncology research.
Mammograms to Screen for Breast Cancer
According to BreastCancer.org, in 2018 there were 266,120 new cases of invasive breast cancer with 63,900 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer in the United States and of these cases, 40,920 women will die of breast cancer in 2018.
Typical symptoms of possible breast cancer include a lump in the breast, a change in the skin of the breast (orange peeling), nipple tenderness, nipple inversion or nipple discharge.
A screening mammogram (X-Ray of the breast) can check for breast cancer even if there are no symptoms or if there is no obvious lump.
A diagnostic mammogram is used to examine an existing lump for malignancy.
There are some risk factors for breast cancer which can be changed by a change in lifestyle. These include obesity, history of smoking, inactivity, alcohol abuse, and use of hormone replacement therapy.
Pap Smears to Screen for Cervical Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, there were 13,240 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in 2018 and approximately 4,170 women who were diagnosed will die from this disease.
Patients with cervical (the cervix is the lower end of the uterus) cancer may exhibit no symptoms or may have spotting, light bleeding between or following periods, heavier or longer periods, pain with intercourse or persistent pelvic or back pain.
Pap smears involve a gentle scraping of the cervix during a pelvic exam to obtain cervical cells which are then examined under a microscope and can detect abnormal or pre-cancerous cervical cells.
HPV testing of cervical cells can detect the HPV DNA most likely to cause HPV related cancers.
If abnormal cervical cells are present, a biopsy can be done to rule out cervical cancer. Early detection allows for a much better chance of effective treatment of cervical cancer.
Risk factors for cervical cancer include HPV (human papillomavirus) infection, genital herpes infection, birth control pills, and smoking.
Modification of some lifestyle risk factors for cervical cancer include: decreasing the number of sexual partners and avoiding sex with those who have had many sexual partners.
Stool for Occult Blood/Colonoscopy to Screen for Colorectal Cancer
According to recent statistics, 1 in every 24 women will be diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum in their lifetimes. Colorectal cancer is very treatable and so early diagnosis and treatment is paramount.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer include rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, bloating and unexplained anemia or weight loss.
Checking the stool for occult blood and colonoscopy remain the best screening tests for colorectal cancer.
Changeable lifestyle risk factors include obesity, inactivity, a diet high in red meat, smoking and heavy alcohol use.
Chest X-Ray/Low Dose CT Scan (LDCT) to Screen for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women. In 2018, it is estimated that 112,350 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in women with 70,500 deaths ensuing.
Symptoms of lung cancer include a persistent cough, coughing up blood, shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest or back pain.
A chest x-ray and or/low dose CT Scan of the chest remain the best screening tests for lung cancer in women.
Stopping cigarette smoking and reducing exposure to asbestos are the two main changeable lifestyle risks to reduce the chance of developing lung cancer.
Make sure you get examined when suggested and do all you can to remain healthy by taking care of yourself in all areas of your life.