Jehangir Hospital

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Cancer Screening

By Jehangir Hospital

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“I don’t want to undergo any tests!” said  50-year-old Ashadevi. Why I asked her politely, these timely screening tests are beneficial. “I am afraid these tests will reveal something and I don’t want to go through the ordeal of treatment. I’ve heard cancer treatment is painful, doctor ma’am.”

Well this scenario is not new and many of my oncology colleagues would agree with me that there is this general morbid fear among individuals of tests revealing ‘something ominous’ and procrastination is preferred over proactiveness.

The fact of the matter is that cancer, if detected early is highly curable! What happens with most cancers is that they present themselves at a later stage. Why? Because patients tend to ignore their symptoms and signs or they refuse to undergo regular tests for the fear of revealing ‘the big C’.

Screening has shown to be beneficial in early diagnosis of certain cancers like breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon or intestinal cancer and lung cancer (individuals with history of active smoking) 

What is screening? Screening, for cancer, is a strategy used in a population to identify the possible presence of an as-yet-undiagnosed cancer in individuals without signs or symptoms. Screening interventions are designed to identify diseases in a community early, thus enabling earlier intervention and management in the hope to reduce mortality and suffering from a disease. 

The common cancers and their recommended screening schedules are outlined in the table below

• A mammography for breast cancer must be considered for females between 45-54 years annually. Women above the age of 55 are recommended to undergo this screening twice a year

• For colorectal cancer, an occult blood in stool indicates the need for further screening. Men or women over 50 years of age must undergo a colonoscopy once in 10 years to detect this kind of cancer

• A sigmoidoscopy also helps in detecting colorectal cancer if men or women above 50 years of age undergo this test once in 5 years

• All sexually active women above 21 years of age must Pap smear every 3 years for cervical cancer

• According to research, people who are former smokers between the age of 55-70 years can undertake a low dose CT scan for lung cancer annually

• Men above 45 years of age are at the risk of prostate cancer and should undergo a PSA annually to rule out this kind of cancer

Timely annual health checks and regular tests help to diagnose cancers at a stage where complete cure is possible. Hence such screening must be encouraged!


Author: Jehangir Hospital


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