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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 treatment.

Screening increases the chances of detecting certain cancers early when they are most likely to be curable.

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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.

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Breast Cancer Screening

Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women.

Mammograms are the best tests for finding breast cancer early. 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%.

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Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer death for American women. The cervical cancer death rate dropped significantly with the increased use of the Pap test.

The best way to find cervical cancer early is to have regular screenings with a Pap test (which may be combined with a test for human papillomavirus or HPV). Being aware of any signs and symptoms of cervical cancer can also help avoid delays in diagnosis. Early detection greatly improves the chances of successful treatment of pre-cancers and cancer.

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Prostate Cancer

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. 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.

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Lung Cancer

Overall, the chance that a man will develop lung cancer in his lifetime is about 1 in 16; for a woman, the risk is about 1 in 17. 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.

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Skin Cancer

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
  • Melanoma

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.

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