Certain Types Of Cancer Can Be Detected Early
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You're Reading Certain Types Of Cancer Can Be Detected Early

woman getting a mamogram

Certain Types Of Cancer Can Be Detected Early

Although COVID-19 put some cancer screenings on hold, getting back to regular screening is important.

Maybe it’s your friend, or someone in your family. Maybe it’s your coworker or boss. Or maybe it’s you. Odds are, someone you know has cancer. In the U.S., about 39 out of 100 women will develop invasive cancer during their lifetime. The good news: Many cancers can be successfully treated – if they’re caught early – according to the American Cancer Society.1 But first, you need to get routine screenings that can help spot certain types of cancer before symptoms start. 

Cervical Cancer 

Every day in 2021, about 11 women in the U.S. are expected to die from cervical cancer.2 Recommended screening for this cancer involves getting an HPV test, which identifies the types of HPV infections most likely to cause cervical cancer. The test can be done by itself (primary HPV test) or at the same time as a Pap test, which helps find cancerous or pre-cancerous cells in the cervix.3 The American Cancer Society recommends people with a cervix who are at average risk should start cervical cancer screening at age 25.3 

Breast Cancer 

Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer among women in the U.S.4 The American Cancer Society recommends women at average risk should start getting annual mammograms at age 45, although women between 40 and 44 should be given the option to have an annual screening if they wish to do so.5 Women over 55 can opt to get a mammogram every other year, or continue annual screening. All women should know how their breasts normally look and feel, and talk with their doctor about any changes. Women at high risk (a family history of the disease or particular gene mutation) might need to begin screening earlier.5

Colorectal Cancer 

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer for women living in the U.S. About one in 25 women will be diagnosed with it.6 But it’s important to know that colorectal cancers tend to grow slowly, and regular screenings starting at age 45 can help detect precancerous growths in the colon or rectum and remove them before they turn into cancer.7 There are visual tests (colonoscopy, CT colonography, and flexible sigmoidoscopy) that can find polyps and cancers, as well as at-home stool tests that look for abnormal fecal DNA or blood.8 Women at higher risk due to family history of the disease, previous polyps, or other risk factors may need more frequent screening, starting at a younger age.  

Lung Cancer 

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., and women between the ages of 30 to 49 are now being diagnosed at higher rates than men.9,10 When detected at an earlier stage, lung cancer is more likely to be successfully treated. For people at higher risk of getting lung cancer, a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) of the chest can help find abnormal areas in the lungs that may be cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends annual screening with LDCT for people ages 55 to 74 in fairly good health who currently smoke or have quit in the past 15 years, or have a 30+ pack-year smoking history, and have talked with their doctor about screening in detail, including the risks, benefits, and limitations of screening with LDCT scans.11

Skin Cancer 

Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S., accounting for more diagnoses each year than all other cancers combined.12 Though men are more likely to get certain types of skin cancer, melanoma rates are higher in women before age 50.12 Although the American Cancer Society does not have screening guidelines for skin cancer, it’s important to check your skin regularly, preferably once a month, for any new or changing moles, blemishes, freckles, or other marks. Share your concerns with your doctor.  

So, what does this mean for you? Get screened when recommended to help protect your health! Starting with National Women’s Health Week (May 9-15), talk to your doctor about scheduling your screenings if you haven’t already. Delayed screenings may lead to later stage cancer at the time of diagnosis when cancer can be more difficult to treat. Cancer screenings are available and can potentially save your life. 

Visit www.CancerScreenWeek.org to learn which screenings are right for you, where you can get screened, and your options if you don’t have insurance.  

[1] American Cancer Society. “Cancer Facts & Figures 2021.”

[2] American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Cervical Cancer.”

[3] CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. “Cervical cancer screening for individuals at average risk: 2020 guideline update from the American Cancer Society.”

[4] American Cancer Society. “How Common Is Breast Cancer?”

[5] American Cancer Society. “American Cancer Society Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer.”

[6] American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Colorectal Cancer.”

[7] American Cancer Society. “If You Have Colon or Rectal Cancer.”

[8] American Cancer Society. “Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests.”

[9] American Cancer Society. “Study: Young Women Now Have Higher Rates for Lung Cancer Than Men Worldwide.”

[10] American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Lung Cancer.”

[11] American Cancer Society. “Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines.”

[12] American Cancer Society. “Key Statistics for Melanoma Skin Cancer.”

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