Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States. For every 100,000 people, 438 new cancer cases were reported and 159 people died of cancer. Prevention is the best way to fight it, as many types of cancers can be prevented, while others are more easily treated when diagnosed early. Cancer screenings are an important part of early diagnosis, prevention and treatment.
Everyone age 50 and older needs to get regularly screened for colorectal (colon) cancer. When found early, colorectal cancer can be treated. Screening helps find abnormal growths that can be removed before they turn into cancer. Almost all colorectal cancers start as polyps, or abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Screening can help find these polyps so they can be removed before turning into cancer.
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women, after skin cancer. The risk of developing breast cancer increases as women get older. Current recommendations are for women ages 50 to 74 to get a mammogram (an x-ray picture of the breasts) every two years.
Pap tests are recommended every three years for women ages 21-65. There are other screening options for cervical cancer, too.
I urge you, if you smoke, to quit now. Lung cancer, one of the many risks from smoking, is the leading cancer killer in women. If you are over 55 and a current smoker, or someone who has quit within the past 15 years, ask your doctor about lung cancer screening.
Nearly 5 million people are treated for skin cancer every year in the U.S. Skin cancer can be serious, expensive, and sometimes even deadly. Fortunately, most skin cancers can be prevented. Protect your skin when you go outside. Use sunscreen, wear protective clothes, or hang out in the shade when you can.
Men who are 55 to 69 years old should make individual decisions about being screened for prostate cancer with a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test. Men who are 70 years old and older should not be screened for prostate cancer routinely.
Learn more about cancer screening and prevention at: www.cdc.gov/cancer.
Editor’s Note: This article was written by Kathleen Warshawsky, BSN, RN; Publisher, Seniors Blue Book; President Dallas Area Gerontological Society. She may be reached at Kathleen@SeniorsBlueBook.com
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