Cancer prevention and early detection are key to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS’) mission to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer. Truman Medical Centers/University Health (TMC/UH) recommends routine cancer screenings for everyone; especially those who are at higher risk or have a family history.
Many cancers are treatable, especially when detected in its early stages. It's important to discuss potential health concerns and screening options with your doctor. Early detection of cancer through screening increases survival rates from cancers of the colorectal, breast, cervical and lung. The first step is to seek care with a primary care physician in order to determine which, if any, screenings would benefit you.
To learn more about which tests are recommended according to your gender and age, see infographic below.
Ovarian cancer: Know your risk
The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that about 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year. Knowing about the risk factors and symptoms can help you protect yourself.
According to the ACS, factors that may affect a woman's risk of ovarian cancer include:
Reproductive history. Women who have never had a full-term pregnancy have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Women who had their first full-term pregnancy after 35 are also at higher risk. Breastfeeding may further lower risk as well.
Obesity. Studies suggest that obese women (those with a body mass index of at least 30) may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Fertility drugs. Some studies suggest a link between long-term use of some fertility drugs and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
Family history. Women with a first-degree relative—mother, daughter or sister—who has had ovarian cancer are at higher risk too. This is especially true if one of those relatives developed the cancer at a young age. A family history of breast cancer or colorectal cancer may also increase risk.
A history of cancer. Women with a personal history of some cancers, including breast cancer, have a higher risk for ovarian cancer.
Age. Ovarian cancer risk increases with age. Half of all cases occur in women 63 years of age or older. However, younger women can and do develop ovarian cancer.
Hormone therapy. Women using estrogen, by itself or with progesterone, after menopause have an increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Inherited gene mutations. Women who inherit a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. These mutations are about 10 times more common in women who are Ashkenazi Jewish than those in the general population.
Talcum powder. Some studies show a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who have used talcum powder on the genital area.
Ovarian cancer often doesn't have specific symptoms in its early stages. For that reason, the disease often isn't found until it has advanced.
When they appear, early symptoms can include a sense of discomfort in the pelvic region as well as indigestion, gas and bloating that can't be explained.
ACS says symptoms may also include:
Experiencing any of these symptoms doesn't mean you have ovarian cancer. But the National Cancer Institute recommends that you check with your doctor if you notice any of them.
If you have symptoms of ovarian cancer, your doctor may use some of the following to check for the disease:
Medical history review. This includes information on symptoms, past health problems and family history of cancer.
Pelvic and rectal exam. A physical examination of the uterus, vagina, ovaries, fallopian tubes, bladder and rectum.
Imaging tests. Ultrasound or computed tomography (CT) tests may be used to look for tumors.
Biopsy. Removing tissue from the ovary and physically examining it is the only way to definitively rule out or diagnose ovarian cancer.
Understanding thyroid cancer
Cancer is not a diagnosis any of us wants to face. But, serious as it may be, when it comes to thyroid cancer there is some good news. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), most people with thyroid cancer have an excellent prognosis. In fact, with appropriate treatment, people with early-stage disease are as likely as people without the disease to live at least five years after their diagnosis.
Growths, or nodules, are a common occurrence in the thyroid gland. But the majority are not cancerous, and most go unnoticed and never cause a problem.
When a thyroid tumor is cancerous, it may be one of several types.
Differentiated thyroid cancers include papillary and follicular cancers. The papillary type accounts for about 80% of all thyroid cancer, according to the ACS.
The prognosis for each of these cancers is generally very positive, especially if the cancer has not spread.
Undifferentiated (anaplastic) thyroid cancers are much less common. This type of cancer often grows and spreads quickly. It generally has a less favorable prognosis than other types of thyroid cancer.
Medullary thyroid cancer is also rare and can run in families. Medullary cancer is sometimes slow-growing but in other cases can be aggressive. Early detection and treatment improve the chance for successful treatment. If you have a family history of this type of thyroid cancer, talk to your doctor about genetic testing.
You are more likely to get thyroid cancer if you don't get enough iodine in your diet. However, it's rare for this to happen in the United States, as iodine is added to table salt and other foods, notes the ACS.
Radiation treatment of the head or neck during childhood—including radiation treatments for acne, for scalp fungal infections, or to shrink tonsils and adenoids—is another risk factor for the disease.
Some people inherit a genetic predisposition for thyroid cancer. And certain inherited medical conditions, such as Gardner syndrome and familial adenomatous polyposis, also increase the risk.
Thyroid cancer is also almost three times more common in women than in men.
Several treatments for thyroid cancer are available. A combination of treatments may be needed:
People who have had their thyroid partly or totally removed will also need to take thyroid hormone therapy. This replaces the thyroid hormone that the gland is no longer able to produce.
Follow-up is essential
Long-term follow-up is crucial after treatment for thyroid cancer. The disease may recur years or even decades later.
Your doctor may recommend a variety of tests depending on the type of thyroid cancer you had. These may include periodic chest x-rays, blood tests, thyroid ultrasounds and radioactive iodine scans. Talk to your doctor about follow-up testing and the best schedule for you.
Prostate cancer: Myth or fact?
The American Cancer Society estimates that about 1 man in 8 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime. Find out how much you know about this common cancer.
Myth or fact: Prostate cancer occurs only in older men.
Myth. It's true that age is one of the leading risk factors for prostate cancer. However, about 4 in 10 cases are diagnosed in men younger than age 65.
Myth or fact: Blood in the urine is an early sign of prostate cancer.
Myth. Prostate cancer usually doesn't cause any symptoms, especially in the early stage of the disease. Blood in the urine can be a sign of advanced prostate cancer, as can difficulty urinating; erectile dysfunction; or pain in the hips, back or chest.
Myth or fact: Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in American men.
Fact. Compared with other cancers, only lung cancer causes more male deaths. Still, most men diagnosed with prostate cancer don't die from it. And most who do are older than 75.
Myth or fact: All men should be screened for prostate cancer at age 50.
Myth. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) says that men should have the opportunity to discuss with their doctor the benefits of screening between the ages of 55 and 69. The USPSTF recommends against screening for men 70 and older. The American Cancer Society encourages men to discuss their risk factors and the pros and cons of screening with their doctor at age 50 for men at average risk—but at age 40 or 45 for those at higher risk.
Myth or fact: The screening test for prostate cancer is called a PSA test.
Fact. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen. It's a substance made by the prostate. At high levels, it can indicate a problem—which could be infection, inflammation or maybe cancer. But the PSA test does not diagnose prostate cancer.
The PSA test isn't a perfect screening tool for prostate cancer. Before having the test, thoroughly review its risks and benefits with a doctor.
Sources: American Cancer Society; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; UpToDate