February 18, 2014
Cancer deaths are declining, yet many more lives could be saved if more people took advantage of the various cancer screenings offered. Finding cancers in an early stage improves the likelihood of successful treatment, says Dr. Joanna Rea, assistant professor of internal medicine at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield. She explains the most important cancer screenings.
“The most common cancer screenings include cervical cancer screening, breast cancer screening, colon cancer screening. Prostate cancer screening has become more controversial and some people don’t even recommend it now. And the newest kid on the block is lung cancer screening with some new guidelines about lung cancer screening.”
To prevent gynecological cancers, Dr. Rea says women should start getting Pap smear or Pap test screenings at age 21. Mammograms should begin at age 40 or 50. Both men and women should be screened for colon cancer at age 50. She says screenings need to be repeated at various intervals.
“For breast cancer or mammograms, they should be repeated every two to three years, again if they are normal. Colon cancer screening – there’s a few different ways we can do colon cancer screening. The most common method that most people have heard about is colonoscopy. And if you have it done at age 50 and it is normal, then it would be repeated every ten years. If there are small abnormalities, then it may be needed to be repeated earlier.”
Dr. Rea encourages people to take advantage of screening opportunities through their personal physicians or community programs offered by county health departments or local hospitals.