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April is Cancer Control Month.
According to William Tester, MD, FACP, Director, Einstein Cancer Center, by making sure you get screened, you increase the chances of finding cancer in its very earliest stages when it is most treatable. People who are at increased risk for certain cancers may need to start screening at an earlier age or be tested more often. Talk to your doctor and find out which screenings are right for you and when you should be tested. In addition to screenings, don’t smoke, eat healthy, be physically active, limit how much alcohol you drink, protect your skin in the sun, and know yourself, your family history and your risks. Here are some guidelines from the American Cancer Society for some screening tests:Mammogram: Detects breast cancer and should begin at age 40. Women should have a mammogram every year.Clinical Breast Exam: Should be part of a periodic health exam, preferably every 3 years for women age 20 to 30, and every year for women starting at age 40. Pap test detects cervical cancer. Screening should begin at age 21. Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV (Human Papilloma Virus) DNA test every 5 years. Colonoscopy is one way to find and remove polyps which keeps some people from getting colorectal cancer. Colonoscopy is recommended at age 50 for people at average risk for the disease. Other tests that find polyps and cancer include: flexible sigmoidoscopy; double-contrast barium enema; and others. Tests that mainly find colorectal cancer include: fecal occult blood test; fecal immunochemical test; or stool DNA test. If you are at high-risk of colorectal cancer, you should begin screening before age 50 and/or be screened more often. These conditions make your risk higher than average: personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps; personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease), or strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test to detect prostate cancer. Starting at age 50, men should talk to their doctor about the pros and cons of this test so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them. If you are African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should have this talk with your doctor at age 45. If you decide to be tested, the digital rectal exam may be done as part of the screening. How often you should be tested will depend on your PSA level.