Screen Test: Keeping Up with Cancer Prevention

August 4, 2015 Ibrahim Shalaby, MD

screen-test-cancer-preventionAre you up to date with cancer screenings? If the answer’s no, you’re not alone: A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says not all adults in America are getting the early detection screenings for breast, colon and cervical cancer.

“The report says screening rates for those cancers either decreased or stayed the same in 2013 compared to previous years,” says Ibrahim Shalaby, MD, FACP, FRCPC, a medical oncologist with Covenant Health’s Joe Arrington Cancer Research and Treatment Center in Lubbock, Texas. “That’s problematic because these tests can be important in detecting cancer early enough to treat it.”

The CDC follows screening guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a volunteer panel of medical experts that makes national health care recommendations. Currently, the recommendations say women ages 50 to 74 should get mammograms every two years; women ages 21 to 65 should get Pap smears to test for cervical cancer every three years; and people ages 50 to 75 should get regular colon cancer screenings in the form of colonoscopies, sigmoidoscopies or high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing.

The report stated that 73 percent of women had the recommended mammograms for breast cancer, about 81 percent of women had the suggested Pap smears and 58 percent of adults had been screened for colon cancer. Those rates were static for colon and breast cancer screenings compared to past years and lower for colon cancer.

“It’s important for doctors to reach out to patients and talk to them about cancer screenings, especially those patients who may be underinsured or uninsured,” Dr. Shalaby says. “It should also be noted that some organizations have cancer screening recommendations that differ from the task force, so patients and doctors should work together to decide what’s appropriate. Talking to your doctor about your family history, personal history and your day-to-day habits can help him determine what you may need.” 

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.


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