Early Diagnosis: These Six Cancer Screenings Are Recommended

Some of the most important tools in the fight against cancer are screening tests that can help find cancer at an early stage.  

It’s important that abnormal tissue or cancer be found early, because by the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have grown and spread, making the cancer harder to treat or cure. 

The earlier doctors can detect changes in tissue, the better the chances of removing a cancer with few complications.  Below are six important cancer screenings that can save lives and prevent tumor development. 

 – Colon Cancer – A colonoscopy is a test that allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of your large intestine (rectum and colon).  Using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope, a colonoscopy can identify ulcers, colon polyps, tumors, and areas of inflammation or bleeding.  During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected and abnormal growths can be taken out. 

– Skin Cancer – A skin cancer screening is a visual inspection of your skin by a medical professional.  While screening for skin cancer, your physician may examine all the skin on the body, even places never exposed to the sun, such as the creases beneath the hips, around the genitals and behind the ears.  If an area on the skin looks abnormal, a biopsy is usually done.  The doctor will remove as much of the suspicious tissue as possible with a local excision and then a pathologist will look at the tissue under a microscope to check for cancer cells. 

– Breast Cancer – The mammogram is currently the most widely practiced type of examination of female breasts as a means of detecting pathological changes in the tissue.  A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and is the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. 

– Prostate Cancer – The PSA test is a blood test used primarily to screen for prostate cancer.  The test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) in your blood.  PSA is a protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate, a small gland that sits below a man’s bladder.  For the test, a blood sample is sent to a laboratory for analysis.  The results are usually reported as nanograms of PSA per milliliter (ng/mL) of blood.  An elevated level may indicate the presence of prostate cancer.  For patients with an elevated PSA, CAMC Urology also offers prostate MRI scans that can detect lesions in the prostate that may be cancerous and can help guide biopsies to the exact area the malignancy is located for quicker diagnosis and treatment. 

– Cervical Cancer – A Pap test is a test of a sample of cells taken from a woman’s cervix or vagina during a pelvic exam.  The test is used to look for changes in the cells of the cervix or vagina and it is the best tool to detect precancerous conditions and hidden, small tumors that may lead to cervical cancer.  

– Lung Cancer – The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is the low-dose computed tomography (CT) test. This test is available for patients who meet certain criteria and have specific risk factors. During the test, an X-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to take detailed pictures of the lungs to find evidence of cancer. 

If you, or a loved one, have recently been diagnosed with cancer, please contact the Radiation Oncology Services at Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC).  Our radiation oncologists strive to deliver the highest quality of medical care to West Virginians by combining over 25 years of clinical experience with the latest technologies. 

For more information on the Radiation Oncology Services at CAMC, and the conditions we treat, please contact us today.