It may not seem like it when you’re up at 3 a.m. with a runny nose, but symptoms of an illness are actually a good thing. After all, without them, you wouldn’t know that you’re sick and should go to the doctor for treatment.
But unfortunately, most cancers don’t present with obvious (or any) symptoms, allowing the cancer to grow and become more harmful. Often, it’s not until cancer has progressed to a more advanced stage that a patient experiences symptoms and goes to the doctor.
Thankfully, early detection methods have revolutionized the way we screen for cancer and have been a major reason why cancer death rates are continuously falling.
What is Early Detection?
Early detection refers to any measure taken to diagnose cancer as early as possible. During a screening, your doctor is looking for cancerous or precancerous cells and tissue, even if you appear to be in good health.
The Benefits of Early Detection
While detecting cancer in its earliest stage doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome, it greatly improves your chances of long-term survival.
Early detection has perhaps had the greatest impact on breast cancer, skin cancer, colorectal cancer, brain tumor, and cervical cancer survival rates.
Common Forms of Early Detection
- Visual skin exam: Each year, your dermatologist should check your skin for abnormal moles or freckles. If they notice something they believe to be cancerous or precancerous, they may biopsy that area and send it for testing.
- Mammogram: Women over 50 (or younger, if they have a family history of breast cancer) should get mammograms each year. This non-invasive test checks for abnormal tissue within the breasts.
- Pap test: Pap tests can both detect and prevent cancer, by finding and treating abnormal cells before they’re able to become cancer.
- Colonoscopy: By examining the large intestine (colon and rectum) for abnormal cells or polyps, colorectal cancer can be found in its earliest stage or prevented altogether.
Beverly Oncology & Imaging offers state-of-the-art medical technology with greater convenience than hospitals can offer. We are leaders in our field, using cutting-edge technology like Rotating Gamma Technology™,External Beam therapy, and brachytherapy. Contact us today to discuss treatment options or to make an appointment.