Cancer Prevention Tests Screening for Women and Men
Cancer prevention tests aims to detect cancer before symptoms appear. This may involve blood tests, urine tests, other tests, or medical imaging. Screening is highly advised for people with a family history of cancer as they have higher risk of developing cancer. The benefits of screening include early detection and subsequent treatment thereby resulting in better outcome. Cancer Prevention tests must be effective, safe, well-tolerated with acceptably low rates of false positive and false negative results. If signs of cancer are detected, more definitive and invasive follow-up tests are performed to reach a diagnosis.
Cancer Prevention tests are used widely to check for cancers of the breast, cervix, colon and rectum.
Breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women both in the developed and the developing world. The incidence of breast cancer is increasing due to increase life expectancy, increasing urbanization and adoption of western lifestyles. Early detection in order to improve breast cancer outcome and survival remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control.
For women at normal risk of breast cancer, self-exams, clinical exams, and screening mammography starting at 50 is advised. Abnormal results or high-risk women may need earlier screening or additional tests.
The breast self-exam is a way that you can check your breasts for changes such as lumps or thickenings. The first sign of breast cancer often is a breast lump or an abnormal mammogram. Male breast cancer is not uncommon and must be taken seriously.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
How to Perform a Breast Self-Exam?
Stand undressed from the waist up in front of a large mirror in a well-lit room. Breasts may not look equal in size or shape. With your arms relaxed by your sides, look for any changes in size, shape, or position, or any changes to the skin of the breasts. Look for any skin puckering, dimpling, sores, or discoloration. Inspect your nipples and look for any sores, peeling, or change in the direction of the nipples.
Turn from side to side to inspect the outer part of your breasts.
Bend forward to look for any changes in the shape or contour of your breasts.
Lift your breasts with your hand to see underneath your breasts.
Check your nipples for discharge (fluid). Place your thumb and forefinger on the tissue surrounding the nipple and pull outward toward the end of the nipple.
Next, in the shower, feel for changes in the breast. Check for any lumps or thickening in your underarm area. With hands soapy, raise one arm behind your head to spread out the breast tissue. Use the flat part of your fingers from the other hand to press gently into the breast. Follow an up-and-down pattern along the breast, moving from bra line to collarbone. Continue the pattern until you have covered the entire breast. Check both sides for lumps or thickenings above and below your collarbone.
Next, lie down and place a small pillow or folded towel under your right shoulder. Put your right hand behind your head. Using Body lotion, feel the breasts with flat fingers in small circular motions. When the circle is complete, move in one inch toward the nipple and complete another circle around the clock. Continue in this pattern until you’ve felt the entire breast and the upper outer areas that extend into the armpit. Place your fingers flat and directly on top of your nipple. Feel beneath the nipple for any changes. Gently press your nipple inward. It should move easily.
A mammogram is a picture of the breast made with x-rays on a specialized machine. A mammogram helps to pick up micro-calcifications which may be indicative of malignancy in non palpable breast lesions. Mammograms must be correlated with ultra sonography of the breast and clinical examination.
Periodic screening mammography results in reduction of mortality due to breast cancer by about 30% in women above the age of 50. Physical examination of breasts by doctors has a sensitivity of 75% and specificity of 90%.
The Pap test (sometimes called Pap smear) is used to check cells from the cervix. The doctor scrapes a sample of cells from the cervix. A lab checks the cells for cancer or changes that may lead to cancer (including changes caused by human papillomavirus, the most important risk factor for cancer of the cervix). Women should speak to their healthcare provider about when & how often they should get a PAP Smear done.
Fecal occult blood test:
Sometimes cancer or polyps bleed. This test can detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool.
Colonoscopy and Sigmoidoscopy:
A number of cancer prevention tests are used to detect polyps (growths), cancer, or other problems in the colon and rectum. The doctor checks inside the rectum and lower part of the colon with a lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope / colonoscope. The doctor can usually remove polyps through the tube. People who have a higher-than-average risk of cancer of the colon or rectum should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests and how often to have them.
Early prostate cancer has no symptoms whatsoever and the only way to detect it is to get a PSA test done once a year after the age of 50. PSA is a simple single blood test which has the potential to pick up prostate cancer very early, which in turn means it can be treated. The PSA test measures the blood level of PSA, a protein that is produced by the prostate gland. The higher a man’s PSA level, the more likely it is that he has prostate cancer. However, there are additional reasons for having an elevated PSA level. It is also used to monitor men who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer to see if their cancer has recurred after initial treatment or is responding to therapy. If the PSA level is high for your age or is steadily increasing (with or without an abnormal physical exam), a biopsy may be recommended. The biopsy is then the only way to determine if prostate cancer or other abnormal cells are present in the prostate.
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