When it comes to cancer, early detection saves lives. That is why keeping up with cancer screening tests is so important. Each screening test has its own guidelines, so talk to your doctor about which tests are right for you and when you should have them. Here is a look at some common cancer screening tests and the current patient guidelines for undergoing the exams.
The mammogram is the gold standard for diagnosing breast cancer. Most women should have a mammogram once a year starting at age 40. In addition to mammograms, women should begin having clinical breast exams every three years in their 20s and 30s, and then annually after age 40. It is also recommended that women perform breast self-exams each month. Some women may require more frequent screening and different kinds of tests, such as an MRI, because of a family history of breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about what is right for you.
There are two approaches to cervical cancer screening: a Pap test or a Pap test plus an HPV test, which is called co-testing. Pap tests should begin at age 21. Women between 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every three years, but don’t generally need an HPV test unless they have an abnormal Pap result. Women between 30 and 65 should have co-testing every five years. After 65, screening can be stopped in women who have a history of normal Pap tests. However, screening should be performed for 20 years after a pre-cancerous Pap result, regardless of age.
Non-smokers don’t usually need lung cancer screenings unless they are experiencing symptoms. Smokers between the ages of 55 and 74 who smoke 30 packs or more per year and are still smoking or quit less than 15 years ago may need to be screened. Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of screening and how often you should be tested.
For diagnosis and treatment, visit the accredited Cancer Program at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point. We provide chemotherapy, surgery, pain management, support groups, and everything else you may need during your cancer battle. For more information, call (888) 741-5119.