Screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage, before symptoms appear. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat or cure. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have grown and spread. This can make the cancer harder to treat or cure.

  • Cancer screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms.
  • There are different kinds of screening tests.
  • Screening tests have risks.
  • Some screening tests can cause serious problems.
  • False-positive test results are possible.
  • False-negative test results are possible.
  • Finding the cancer may not improve the person’s health or help the person live longer.
  • Cancer screening is looking for cancer before a person has any symptoms.

Contact our Oncology Specialists today and discover which screening test is right for you.

Types of Screening Tests

Each type of cancer has its own screening tests. Some types of cancer currently do not have an effective screening method. Developing new cancer screening tests is an area of active research.

Breast Cancer

  • Mammography. Mammography is a type of x-ray specifically designed to view the breast. The images produced by mammography, called mammograms, can show tumors or irregularities in the breast.
  • Clinical breast examination. A medical professional looks and feels for any changes in the breast’s size or shape. The examiner also looks for changes in the skin of the breasts and nipples.
  • Breast self-examination. During this exam, a woman looks and feels for changes in her own breasts. If she notices any changes, she should see a doctor.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). MRI is not regularly used to screen for breast cancer. However, it may be helpful for women with a higher risk of breast cancer, those with dense breasts, or when a lump is found during a breast examination.

Learn more about breast cancer screening here.

Cervical Cancer

  • Pap test. Cells are gently scraped from the outside of a woman’s cervix and vagina. A pathologist then identifies any precancerous or cancerous cells.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV) testing. Some of the cells collected during the Pap test may be tested for HPV. Infection with HPV is a risk factor for cervical cancer.

Learn more about cervical cancer screening here.

Colorectal Cancer

  • Colonoscopy. During this procedure, the doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube called a colonoscope into the rectum. The doctor is able to check the entire colon for polyps or cancer.
  • Sigmoidoscopy. The doctor uses a flexible, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope to check the lower colon for polyps and cancer. The doctor cannot check the upper part of the colon with this test.
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT). This test finds blood in the feces, or stool, which can be a sign of polyps or cancer. There are two types FOBT: guaiac and immunochemical.
  • Double contrast barium enema. This is an x-ray examination of the colon and rectum. The barium enema helps the outline of the colon and rectum stand out on the x-rays. Doctors use this test to screen people who cannot have a colonoscopy.
  • Stool DNA tests. This test analyzes DNA from a person’s stool sample to look for cancer. It uses DNA changes found in polyps and cancers to help a doctor decide whether a colonoscopy is needed.

Learn more about colorectal cancer screening here.

Head and Neck Cancers

  • General health screening examination. The doctor looks in the nose, mouth, and throat for abnormalities and feels for lumps in the neck. Regular dental check-ups are also important to screen for head and neck cancers.

Learn more about head and neck cancer screening here.

Lung cancer

  • Low-dose helical or spiral computed tomography (CT) scan. A CT scan creates a three-dimensional picture of the inside of the body with an x-ray machine. A computer then combines these images into a detailed, cross-sectional view that shows any abnormalities or tumors.

Learn more about lung cancer screening here.

Prostate Cancer

  • Digital rectal examination (DRE). A DRE is a test in which the doctor inserts a gloved lubricated finger into a man’s rectum and feels the surface of the prostate for any irregularities.
  • Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. This blood test measures the level of a substance called PSA. PSA is usually found at higher-than-normal levels in men with prostate cancer. However, a high PSA level may also indicate conditions that are not cancerous.

Learn more about prostate cancer here.

Skin Cancer

  • Complete skin examination. A doctor checks the skin for signs of skin cancer.
    Skin self-examination. People examine their entire body in a mirror for signs of skin cancer. It often helps to have another person check the scalp and back of the neck.
  • Dermoscopy. A doctor uses a handheld device to evaluate the size, shape, and pigmentation patterns of skin lesions. Dermoscopy is usually used to for the early detection of melanoma.

Learn more about skin cancer screening here.

Screening Tests Have Risks

Not all screening tests are helpful and most have risks. It is important to know the risks of the test and whether it has been proven to decrease the chance of dying from cancer.

Some screening tests can cause serious problems. Make sure the professionals you choose for your tests are well-reviewed by their patients and are using the most up-to-date equipment and software.

Visit our Cost Options page to see how we offer state of the art cancer screening for less.

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