In our last edition we discussed the increasing rates of cancer and which kinds of cancer were at the top of the hit parade. Now lets look at how cancer screening and early detection can improve the outcomes of many of these cancers.
While regular screening is not recommended for all people, those at risk should seek and annual check at a skin cancer-screening center.
People at high risk for skin cancer include those with:
- fair skin, a tendency to burn rather than tan, freckles, light eye colour, light or red hair colour;
- increased numbers of unusual moles (dysplastic naevi);
- depressed immune systems;
- a family history of melanoma in a first degree relative; and
- previous melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers
- those who have had high levels of sun exposure
(water sports, outdoors employment etc).
All women should know how their breasts normally look and feel. Self-breast examination should be conducted every month and any breast changes reported to a health care provider right away. Some women who may high risk (2 or more relatives with cancer of the breasts, ovaries, uterus or prostate) or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or can continue yearly screening.
Ultrasound scan may also be recommended as an extra diagnostic tool.
Colon and rectal cancer and polyps
Starting at age 50, both men and women should have a fecal blood test screening. If this test is positive a colonoscopy should be performed. This is a good basic screening test, however, in advanced medical facilities other more advanced less invasive tests may be offered.
If you are at high risk of colon cancer based on family history or other factors, you may need to be screened using a different schedule.
- Cervical cancer testing should start 2 years after sexual activity commences.
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every 3 years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test done every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to
be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65.
- A woman who has had her uterus and cervix removed (a total hysterectomy) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
- All women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups.
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
All women at the time of menopause, should be told about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer. Women should report any unexpected vaginal bleeding or spotting to their doctors.
Routine screening is generally not recommended unless you are hi-risk. Screening might be right for you if you are all of the following:
- 55 to 74 years of age
- Have at least a 30 pack-year smoking history AND are either still smoking or have quit within the last 15 years (A pack-year is the number of cigarette packs smoked each day multiplied by the number of years a person has smoked. Someone who smoked a pack of cigarettes per day for 30 years has a 30 pack-year smoking history, as does someone who smoked 2 packs a day for 15 years.) OR if you have lived with a heavy smoker in a closed living or working space.
Starting at age 50, men should talk to a health care provider about their risk factors and which testing is the right choice for them. If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should get a PSA blood test with or without a rectal exam. How often you’re tested will depend on your PSA level.
Take control of your health, and help reduce your cancer risk.
- Stay away from all forms of tobacco.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Get moving with regular physical activity.
- Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all).
- Protect your skin.
- Know yourself, your family history, and your risks.
- Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
Remember – many of these cancers have no symptoms in the early stages and early detection of any of these cancers will always improve the outcome of any treatment ☺
Kim Patra is a qualified Midwife & Nurse Practioner who has been living and working in Bali for over 30 years. She now runs her own Private Practice & Mothers & Babies center at her Community Health Care office in Sanur.
Copyright © 2020 Kim Patra
You can read all past articles of Paradise…in Sickness & in Health at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz