Cancer is scary. No one wants to face a cancer diagnosis.
It can be tempting to put off getting screened for cancer just so you don’t have to face the possibility of a diagnosis. But cancer screening should be considered an important part of your overall health, just like your annual visit to a primary care doctor or keeping up with your medications.
Knowing when to be screened for certain types of cancer is key. The guidelines and recommendations are different for each type of screening.
Your primary care provider can help guide you on what cancer screenings are recommended for you and when to start. The guidelines below are a good place to start.
Most importantly, don’t wait until you have symptoms. Even if you don’t have symptoms or a family history, you could be at risk of cancer. Getting cancer screenings on a routine basis will ensure your doctor has a baseline to compare to and ensure early detection.
Why is early detection important? When cancers are caught in earlier stages, they are easier to treat and you have a far better chance of survival. Treatments are also less invasive when cancer is caught in earlier stages.
With all cancers, if you have symptoms, don’t delay. Talk to your doctor as soon as possible and be an advocate for your health.
Breast Cancer Screening
It’s recommended that women start getting annual mammograms at age 40 to screen for breast cancer. If you have a family history of breast or other cancers, talk to your doctor about getting a mammogram at an earlier age. Visit UofLHealth.org/Screenings to learn more about our locations.
UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center also offers a High Risk Breast Clinic for patients who have a family history of breast cancer and are interested in genetic testing. To learn more, call 502-562-HOPE (4673).
Symptoms of breast cancer may include:
- A new lump in the breast or armpit
- Thickening or swelling of the breast
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area
- Pain or pulling in of the nipple area
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Change in the size or shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Screening for colorectal cancer can be done through a variety of tests. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends colorectal cancer screening begins in all adults at age 45 and continue through age 75.
The most effective screening is a colonoscopy, which only has to be done once every 10 years if you’re not considered high risk for colorectal cancer. Colonoscopies are outpatient procedures and recovery time typically only takes a day. The procedure detects pre-cancerous polyps (which are removed during the procedure) and cancer.
A colonoscopy is performed by a gastroenterologist, general surgeon or colorectal surgeon. To find a provider, visit UofLHealth.org/Screenings.
Take-at-home stool tests are also an option, including FIT and Cologuard®. These look for blood in the stool or both blood and DNA changes that may suggest colorectal cancer. These tests can be done through a primary care provider. An abnormal result may require a colonoscopy.
Symptoms of colorectal cancer may include:
- Change in bowel habits
- Blood in or on your stool
- Feeling that the bowel doesn’t empty all the way
- Abdominal pain
- Aches or cramps that don’t go away
- Unexplained weight loss
Lung Cancer Screening
Kentucky has one of the highest rates of lung cancer in the U.S. and lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. among both men and women. Yet, the American Lung Association reports that only 13% of those who are considered high risk actually get screened for lung cancer.
Smoking is the number one risk factor and accounts for 80-90% of lung cancer cases.
The USPSTF recommends annual lung cancer screening for adults aged 50-80 who have a 20-pack-year* smoking history.
*(A pack-year is calculated by the number of years smoked, multiplied by the number of packs smoked per day. For example: 2 packs per day x 10 years = 20 pack-years.)
Lung cancer screening is done through a quick low-dose CT scan. This scan captures scans of the whole torso, so it can actually catch other cancers, such as breast or colorectal cancers.
To see our lung cancer screening locations, visit UofLHealth.org/Screenings. Call the UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center – Cancer Screening Program to schedule your lung cancer screening at any of our locations: 502-210-4497.
Prostate Cancer Screening:
Men should talk to their doctor about when to start screening for prostate cancer. Those with an average risk should start at age 50. However, certain groups such as those with a family history may need to start at age 40, and Black men should start at age 45.
Screening is done through a PSA blood test, which can be done at your primary care provider’s office. A digital rectal exam is also recommended.
Symptoms of prostate cancer include:
- Pain when ejaculating
- Prolonged pain in your pelvis, hips or back
- Blood in your semen or urine
- A burning or painful sensation when urinating
- Having difficulty urinating
- Urinating more frequently
Cancer Screening Program
The UofL Health – Brown Cancer Center – Cancer Screening Program is here to help. If you have questions about cancer screening, need assistance with scheduling a screening or would like to invite someone from the team to your community event to offer screening information, call 502-210-4497.