Preventive Cancer Care
Millions of people in the world lose their life to cancer every year. However, it is not an untreatable disease. Cancer, if caught early on, can be treated successfully, that too at a fraction of the cost of aggressive treatment methods. One way to catch cancer early on is opting for regular screening tests. Most forms of screening can find cancer even before patients notice symptoms. Getting screening tests regularly can help detect breast, colon, cervical, and lung cancers. People over the age of 20 should go for periodic health-checkups for cancer of oral cavity, skin, thyroid, ovaries and lymph nodes.
Breast cancer usually presents symptoms such as a lump in the breast, change in breast shape, dimpling of the skin, or swollen lymph nodes. A mammogram can detect breast lumps even before they are felt. Additionally, mammograms may also spot ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), which may become invasive cancer in some women. Women over the age of 40 are recommended to have mammograms every 1 or 2 years. For women under the age of 40 who have a risk factor for breast cancer should consult their healthcare provider periodically.
Cervical cancer occurs when there is abnormal growth of cells in the cervix. The most common cause of cervical cancer is due to the presence of HPV virus. Opting for frequent HPV tests can detect HPV virus early on. It is usually recommended for girls and women aged 11-26 to be vaccinated for HPV. Alongside HPV test, PVP test can also find abnormal cells which can turn cancerous. Healthcare professionals usually recommend women over the age of 30 to have HPV and PVP test every 3 years.
Colorectal cancer usually develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Precancerous polyps can be detected with screening tests. If such polyps are found then it can be surgically removed before it turns cancerous. Doctors often recommend to start screening once a person turns 50. Additionally, FOBT test, Stool DNA test, sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, and standard colonoscopy are other accepted screening tests for colorectal cancer.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in Indian men. People who smoke have a greatest risk of developing lung cancer, although it can also occur in person who have never smoked. People who have a history of heavy smoking (1 pack per day), or smoke now, or have quit in the past 15 years are in higher risk of having lung cancer. Currently, low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) is the only recommended screening test for lung cancer. Doctors recommend people who are in higher risk of having lung cancer and are between the age of 55-80 to have yearly screening for lung cancer.