Cancer screening is important in identifying and detecting abnormalities that could lead to cancer. Cancer screening can detect cancer before a person even has symptoms. Early detection can be the difference between life and death.
Cancer screening can involve both simple, non-invasive procedures, or more intense ones, in order to detect changes in cells which could lead to cancer.
Screening may detect precancerous cells, which are easier to treat than cancerous ones.
Research has shown that being screened for certain cancers including breast, prostate, cervical, lung cancers can lead to early diagnosis, a better prognosis (or better risk of survival), and better treatment plans.
The word “cancer” can evoke emotions of fear and dread among many people. Culturally, this is very common among people of the Caribbean heritage, who are predominantly of African descent.
Screening does not exist for every type of cancer. For those that are available, take every opportunity and get screened.
TYPES OF CANCER SCREENING
There are different ways in which screening can be done, some of which include the following:
- Physical Exam and History – Examining the body to check for signs and symptoms like lumps, discolorations, or anything unusual. The doctor may ask about health habits, previous illnesses, and family history at this time.
- Laboratory Tests – Examining samples such as tissue, blood, urine and other body fluids. Laboratory tests are useful because they may reveal how organs are functioning, but cannot be used independently for diagnostic purposes.
- Imaging – Taking internal pictures of the body using techniques like x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and endoscopies.
- Biopsy – The removal of a small sample of tissue or tumour to determine whether certain cancer cells are present.
- Genetics Testing – Examining a person’s DNA to check for cell mutations.
Benefits of Cancer Screening
- Detect cancer as early as possible, when treatment is simpler less costly
- Receive treatment at the earliest stages of cancer, when the rate of survival is higher
“For breast cancer screening, the World Health Organization recommends organized population-based mammography screening programs for women aged 50-69 years, every 2 years. This applies to well-resourced settings and to limited-resource settings, where there is a strong health system with conditions for implementing an organized screening program.”