Getting screened regularly for cancer and other health issues is the best way to prevent many different types of disease. Talk to your doctor if you have questions about what types of cancer you should be screened regularly for.
What is cancer screening?
Cancer screening is a way in which doctors check for some forms of cancer in the body when you don't have any symptoms. The goal of cancer screening is to find those cancers that can be found as early as possible before a person has any symptoms.
Different tests can be used to screen for different types of cancers. The age at which screening starts varies depending on the type of cancer being screened for. That's because different cancers tend to strike at different times in a person's life.
Why should I have cancer screening?
Cancer that is found early often is small and can sometimes be cured or treated easily. Treating certain cancers early can help people live longer. Sometimes, screening finds cells that do not yet show cancer, but that might turn into cancer cells. Doctors often treat this pre-cancer before it has a chance to become cancer.
Does everyone have the same cancer screening?
No. Not everyone is screened for the same types of cancer, and not everyone begins cancer screening at the same age. For example, people with a family history of certain cancers might begin screening at a younger age than people without a family history. People might have repeat screening tests at different times, too. Ask your doctor or nurse:
- Which cancers should I be screened for?
- Are there choices to make about which screening tests to have?
- At what age should I begin cancer screening?
- How often should I be screened?
Does an abnormal screening test result mean that I have cancer?
Not always. An abnormal screening test result means that you might have cancer. It does not mean that you definitely have cancer. If you have an abnormal result, your doctor or nurse will probably need to do other tests to find out for sure if anything is wrong. Try not to worry about having cancer until you follow up with your doctor or nurse.