Cancer prevention is one of the challenge for people who are suffering from this disease. Follow these cancer prevention medical tests for your good health. Adapting the phrase a bit, and without the intention of being alarmist, better safe than sorry. Our prevention shield is a healthy lifestyle: diet, physical activity, stress, smoking …
Performing medical tests that range from a blood test to more in-depth ones that we will describe in the article, will give us very valuable time to prevent cancer from becoming more important and more difficult to eliminate.
For the development and recommendations of the different tests we are based on two updated publications of the CA journal: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians that tell us about cancer statistics in 2021 and a complete review of the current guidelines for cancer detection.
In women, breast cancer is the most diagnosed, followed by lung and colorectal cancer. The main cancer men face is prostate cancer, followed also by lung and colorectal cancer. Therefore, the main cancers are: prostate, breast, colorectal and lung.
Tobacco hinders us from cancer prevention
Cancer diagnosis and treatment have been hampered in 2020 by COVID-19. Until that time, declines in smoking and improvements in early detection and treatment of cancer have significantly reduced cancer mortality over the past three decades.
The lung cancer is caused directly by smoking . In fact, smokers who quit before the age of 40 could reduce their risk of death from smoking-related diseases by about 90% compared to continuing to smoke.
Consequently, the first test that we must pass, although not medical, is to be able to quit smoking . If we also practice daily physical activity, take care of our diet and live without stress, our chances of developing cancer will decrease considerably. Below are different types of cancer and different medical tests for each type for cancer prevention.
Mammography is a type of x – ray that focuses on the breasts. The American Cancer Society recommends that women age 45 and older have regular mammograms. Between 45 and 54 years an annual test is recommended. With 55 years or more, a biannual screening could be done or continue as before, with a test a year.
The American Cancer Society does not establish an age limit to stop taking the test, specifying that from the age of 70 it should continue to be performed on women in good health and with at least ten years of projected longevity.
Magnetic resonance imaging
Magnetic resonance imaging is recommended in groups of women at high risk of developing breast cancer. That high risk depends on certain genetic mutations, family history of breast cancer, etc. This type of test uses powerful magnets and radio waves to look for symptoms of cancer and would be done annually in conjunction with the mammogram.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in men. The incidence and mortality of prostate cancer can be reduced if we carry out the relevant tests. The American Cancer Society established guidelines for the early detection of prostate cancer.
It describes how there are various tests that allow us to detect prostate cancer early and treat it. It is necessary to comment that false positives or false negatives can also occur and that early detection and treatment do not always prevent death. As well as the side effects of any drug treatment.
In any case, men from the age of 50 are recommended to know the risks and benefits of tests and treatment. The factors that increase the risk include: being African American, having a family history of prostate cancer and have an advanced age.
Prostate specific antigen test
It is a test that measures the concentration of a substance that is produced in the prostate . It is analyzed with a blood draw and depending on the level of the substance it acts differently. If the results show very low concentrations there is no major problem and we simply have to return after two years for another routine check-up.
If the concentrations are not high, but they are suspicious, they will recommend doing it again a year later, or a more exhaustive study will be carried out with other types of tests such as digital rectal examination.
It is a manual examination in which the person trained to do so inserts a finger into the lower part of the rectum to feel the prostate and detect if there is something strange. This test, along with the prostate specific antigen test, will give us the results.
As with prostate cancer, we will be informed of different points in making the decision to start screening for lung cancer. Once those benefits, limitations, and harms are read and understood, we can begin with the relevant evidence.
Low-dose helical computed tomography
The test consists of lying on a table while the x-ray machine takes pictures of our lungs. It is done in a few minutes and it will give us the necessary results to know our situation regarding lung cancer.
The American Cancer Society guidelines recommend annual low-dose helical computed tomography lung cancer screening in adults 55-74 years of age who:
- Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years;
- They smoke or have smoked at least 30 packs of tobacco per year.
It is one of the main cancer diagnoses, in both men and women, which has also been reducing its incidence and mortality thanks to prevention and early detection. On the contrary, several risk factors such as obesity, type II diabetes and a sedentary lifestyle have worryingly increased the risk of colorectal cancer.
Adults 45 years of age or older at risk of colorectal cancer are recommended to undergo mainly the following two tests. And for those of 50 years or more the recommendation becomes more important.
Fecal immunochemical test
The fecal immunochemical test analyzes the hidden blood in the stool as it gives us information about a possible colon cancer. To carry it out, we must follow the instructions given by our doctor to deliver the fecal sample.
It is recommended to do it annually. It is useful since in case of suspicious results they will recommend us to perform the following test: the colonoscopy. And if everything is in order, this stool test will suffice.
Colonoscopy can be done every 10 years, as long as the results of the above test are correct. The doctor inserts an instrument with a small camera into our large intestine in search of possible abnormalities such as inflamed tissue, lumps or ulcers.