It is Time to Get Your Cancer
By: Adam Walter,
MD, ProMedica Physicians Gynecology | Oncology and chair of the
ProMedica Cancer Institute
approach to health is the always best approach. That’s
especially true when it comes to detecting cancer since it can
be present long before any symptoms exist. One of our best tools
for detecting cancer early is cancer screenings.
screenings can detect changes in your body before you feel
symptoms and catch cancer early. That is why the best time for
someone to be screened is when they are feeling great with no
symptoms. Once someone has symptoms, we are no longer talking
about screenings and instead talking about diagnostic
In general, no
matter how aggressive a cancer is, if it is caught in an early
stage, there will be much better outcomes. It is important to
discuss with your health care provider the best screening
schedule for you based on your family history and other risk
factors. The main cancer screenings help detect, and in some
cases prevent, breast cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal
cancer, prostate cancer, skin cancer and lung cancer.
What should we know about breast cancer screenings?
The goal of
screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes
symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Generally, women 20-39
should have a clinical breast exam at least every three years
and women 40 and older should have an annual breast exam and an
What should we know about cervical cancer screenings?
cancer screening is very effective for preventing cervical
cancer and deaths from the disease. Women ages 21 to 29 should
have a Pap test every three years and women ages 30 to 65: Pap
test every three years OR combined Pap test and HPV tests every
What should we know about colorectal cancer screenings?
Men and women
at average risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening at
age 45 and then have a colonoscopy every 10 years. If there
family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a physician may
advise screenings prior to age 45 or additional screenings.
What should we know about prostate cancer screenings?
age 40, men should consult with their doctor to make an informed
decision on testing, based on personal risk factors.
What should we know about lung cancer screenings?
Men and women
ages 50 to 80 with a high risk of lung cancer, such as current
or former smokers, should discuss the benefits of a lung cancer
screening with their physician.
know it is best to get your screenings before you have any
symptoms, but what are some symptoms to watch for?
symptoms can be a strong indication of cancer and you should
seek medical attention quickly:
Breast cancer – masses, lumps, tenderness or nipple
Colon cancer – gastrointestinal issues, cramping or
bleeding with bowel movements.
Cervical cancer - a heavy menstrual cycle, pain or
bleeding after intercourse.
Prostate cancer – difficulty urinating, urinating
frequently and urine retention.
Lung cancer – persistent coughing.
While we can be
thankful there have been significant advancements in cancer
treatment over the years, it is still best to treat it as early
as possible. Patients often tell me they wish they could “rewind
time” and go get their cancer screening before they ever had
symptoms. If you are symptom-free, you are in a fortunate
position to be proactive about your health. Please consider
making your appropriate cancer screening appointments today.