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House Call: Importance of cancer screenings

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 4:25 PM EDT
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June is National Cancer Survivorship Month and joining us is Peggy Johnson, nurse navigator at the Cecil B. Highland Jr. and Barbara B. Highland Cancer Center at United Hospital Center. Tonight is part one of a two part series on how cancer screenings can increase the chance of spotting signs of early cancer development.

1). How Do I know if I Need to be Screened for Cancer?

Though it may be common to think, “cancer could never happen to me,” it is important to never leave your health to chance. Those with a family history of cancer, or other lifestyle or health factors that increase their risk for cancer, should talk to their doctor about receiving a cancer screening.

Some of the warning signs of cancer are:

· Change in bowel or bladder habits

· Nagging cough or hoarseness

· Thickening or lump in the breast or elsewhere

· A sore that does not heal

· Change in a wart or mole

· Unusual bleeding or discharge

· Indigestion or difficulty in swallowing

2). Is There a Way to Screen for All Types of Cancers?

There are several cancer screening tests available, but certain tests are commonly done on a routine basis.

The other screenings will be determined by the assessment obtained from your primary care.

· Breast cancer – mammograms are the best at detecting breast cancer.

· Colorectal cancer –almost always develops from precancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps and they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

· Cervical cancer-pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix. HPV looks for the virus that can cause these cells to change. Pap tests can find changes early for a better chance of being cured.

· Lung cancer – history of heavy smoking. Smoking now or have quit within the past 15 years needs to be screened.

3). Do I Need a Doctor’s Referral to Get Screened for Cancer?

Your primary care will get the appropriate cancer screenings in place for the cancers that are routinely screened.

Your primary care will also ask you several questions during your yearly physical to determine if other screenings are needed.

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