Cancer may start anywhere in the body. Cancer starts when cells begin to
grow and multiply, creating new cancer cells. When cancer cells crowd
out normal cells, it is hard for the body to work the way it should.
There are many types of cancer. It can start in the lungs, breast, colon,
or other organs and even in the blood. Cancers may be alike in some ways,
but are different in the ways they grow and spread.
People with cancer need treatment that works for their type of cancer.
More people than ever before are able to lead full lives after cancer
Screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early, when
they are most likely to be curable.
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer begins in either the large intestine (called the colon)
or the rectum. These forms of cancer have many common features.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United
States. Early colorectal cancer usually has no symptoms, which is why
screening is so important. Colorectal cancer most commonly begins as a
polyp, developing slowly over a period of many years. At first, the polyp
is a small, harmless growth in the wall of the colon. However, as a polyp
gets larger, it can develop into cancer that grows and spreads.
A colonoscopy lets the physician look inside your entire large intestine,
from the lowest part, the rectum, all the way up through the colon to
the lower end of the small intestine. It enables the physician to see
inflamed tissue, abnormal growths, ulcers, and bleeding. It is also used
to diagnose the causes of unexplained changes in bowel habits.
Screening offers the best opportunity to detect early disease, increasing
your chances of successful treatment.
Breast Cancer Screening
Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer
among American women. The chance of developing invasive breast cancer
at some time in a woman's life is a little less than 1 in 8. The chance
of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 36.
Mammograms are the best tests for finding breast cancer early. Routine
screening for breast cancer starting at age 50 is recommended every 1-2
years. Mammograms allow doctors to look for early signs of breast cancer,
sometimes up to three years before it can be felt. There is no better
tool in the fight against breast cancer than early detection. When detected
at its early stages, the five-year survival rate is 90%.
Cervical Cancer Screening
Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the
United States, but over the past 30 years, death rates have decreased
by more than 50% due to the increased use of Pap test screening.
Cervical cancer is nearly 100% preventable. Annual check-ups, and early
detection through a Pap test screening, are a woman’s best way of
According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the most common
cancer in American men after skin cancer. Almost all prostate cancers are
adenocarcinomas. These cancers develop from the gland cells (the cells that make the prostate
fluid that is added to semen).
Prostate cancer develops mainly in older men, and African Americans are
at a higher risk. About 6 in 10 cases occur in men 65 or older, and it
is rare before age 40. Seventy percent of deaths due to prostate cancer
occur after age 75. Most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it.
Screening includes the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test, and
may also include a digital rectal exam. There are different medical opinions
on prostate cancer screening so informed decision making is important.
In addition to age, your health status and family history should be considered.
Discuss the risks and potential benefits of screening with your doctor.
The chance of developing lung cancer is about 1 in 14 for men, and roughly
1 in 17 for women according to the American Cancer Society. These numbers
include both smokers and non-smokers. For smokers the risk is much higher.
The average age for a lung cancer diagnosis is 70.
Annually, more people die from lung cancer than from breast, prostate and
colon cancer combined. Survival of people with lung cancer depends on
the stage and extent of the cancer when it is found.
There are three main types of lung cancer:
- Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (85% of cases; most common)
- Small Cell Lung Cancer (10% to 15% of cases; tends to spread quickly)
Lung Carcinoid Tumor (fewer than 5% of cases; slow growing and rarely spreads)
Talk to your doctor each year about a low-dose CT scan if you are age 55
to 80 and currently a heavy smoker (1 pack per day/last 30 years or 2
packs per day/last 15 years), or a heavy smoker who quit in the last 15
years. Discontinue screening once you have not smoked for 15 years.
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States. More skin cancers are
diagnosed in the U.S. each year than all other cancers combined, and the
number has risen over the past few decades. There are three main types
of skin cancers:
- Basal Cell
- Squamous Cell
The majority of skin cancers are caused by too much exposure to
ultraviolet (UV) rays. Usually this exposure comes from the sun, but may also come from indoor
tanning beds and sun lamps.
Skin cancers can show up in many shapes and sizes. Be sure to show your
doctor any areas or moles that concern you, especially if they have recently
changed shape, color, diameter, or developed ragged borders. Melanoma
is the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Most skin cancers are preventable, and if identified right away, may be
treated effectively. Exams by your doctor and checking your own skin frequently
can help find skin cancer in the early stages. Talk to your doctor about
how often you should have your skin examined.