Cancer Screening

Cancer Screening

Cancer, otherwise known as malignancy, is a disease defined by abnormal and rapid cell growth. Cancer is a large term; there are many subtypes including breast, lung, colon, prostate, etc. Each type behaves differently, causes different symptoms, and requires a different specialized treatment.


Disease Overview

Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth. These uncontrollable cells divide rapidly, forming masses, or ‘tumors.’ When tumors are big enough they will begin to interfere with the functions of different organ systems and cause signs and symptoms noticed by the patient. Abnormal cell growth may also occur in non-solid organs such as the blood stream; the cells then do not form a solid mass but instead cause system dysfunction by taking over the normal cells of the blood. Cancer behaves very differently according to its type, and thus the symptoms and treatments for cancer are widely varied. Some solid tumors may be cured simply by surgical removal, whereas others may take extensive amounts of chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapy to be put into remission.


Cancer Screening

Cancer screening refers to exams given in attempt to detect cancer before it grows enough to cause noticeable symptoms. One of the reasons why cancer is difficult to treat is that it is usually discovered a long time after it first arises in the body. Patients often do not notice symptoms caused by cancer until it has grown very large, and only then do they visit the physician. As cancers grow they become harder and harder to treat. It is also more likely that a late-stage cancer will have metastasized to different areas of the body, which confers a much worse prognosis for the patient. Cancer screening is the physician’s answer to this problem. Physicians and researchers have developed many tests in order to detect cancer before it grows large and become symptomatic and difficult to treat. These exams are extremely important for adults, and recommendations for routine cancer screening exams differ depending on the organ system and background of the patient.

Ask a physician today about the types of cancer screening which are appropriate for you. Having these tests done routinely is one of the most successful ways to increase your chance of preventing cancer growth and spread, and to ensure a greater chance of effective treatment and cure if cancer is ever detected.


Screening tests for Different Types of Cancer

Currently there are four recommended routine cancer screening tests:


Breast Cancer

A mammography test is recommended yearly for women age 50-74. If any close relatives have a history of breast cancer, however, you may need to begin getting mammograophs earlier than 50 years old. Clinical breast exams should also be done yearly with every pap smear, starting at 21 years of age. Speak with a DOCCS physician today to see how they can help you get screened. See breast cancer article for more information.


Cervical Cancer

A yearly PAP smear is recommended for every female over 21 years old who has ever been sexually active. Please see the PAP smear article on our website for more information. Pap smears are routinely done at DOCCS and our clinicians will treat your results with the most advanced care. Call your DOCCS physician today to discuss pap smears and cervical cancer screening, or walk into our office—our doors are always open.


Colon Cancer

The gold standard of colo-rectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy. Fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy are also often used. Every male and female should receive a colonoscopy at age 50, and earlier if he or she has history of colon cancer in ay family members. Contact your DOCCS physician today to learn more about colon cancer screening.


Prostate Cancer

For screening purpose prostate specific antigen (PSA) test is used. This is a simple blood test which can detect the levels of hormone produced by the prostate. A high level can indicate cancer, and a biopsy may be required for diagnosis. Males over 40 years old should have PSA tests; ask a physician at DOCCS today for more information.