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What Are the Recommended Cancer Screening Tests?

November 28, 2022

In a study published by the American Cancer Society, researchers detailed what most would agree are startling and ominous findings, the first being an estimated 1.9 million new cancer cases are projected by the end of 2022. The second is some 609,000 Americans diagnosed with cancer will likely lose their lives to the disease. As startling and ominous as these findings are, they are not altogether that surprising when you consider the number of cancers known to both the medical and scientific communities and the number of carcinogens that put individuals at risk of developing the disease. 

According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 100 known cancers can attack the body, each named after the tissue or organ where it first originated. As far as carcinogens are concerned, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says 120 agents are carcinogenic to adults and children. If there is a silver lining, it is that not all cancers are a death sentence. With early detection and immediate treatment, the 5-year survival rate of some cancers is over 90%.  And this perfectly explains why nearly all physicians are proponents of routine cancer screenings.

Commonly Diagnosed Cancers in the U.S.

Before detailing why some individuals should get screened for cancer, we should first go over some of the more commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. Topping the list is breast cancer, which is on track to surpass 290,000 new cases by the end of 2022.  Second is lung cancer, which will likely reach 236,000 new cases by 2022.  Third is prostate cancer, which will account for roughly 268,000 new cases by the end of the year.  Next, we have colorectal cancer, the fourth-most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S.  Available data shows this particular cancer will likely account for around 106,000 new cases by year’s end.  Last but not least, the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer is cervical cancer, which is on track to reach more than 14,000 new cases by the end of 2022.

Why Are Cancer Screening Tests Important?

Whether it be a breast, prostate, lung, or cervical cancer screening, scheduling and undergoing a routine cancer screening could save your life. The same applies to colorectal cancer screening tests and any other cancer screening. According to nearly all oncologists, not to mention the American Cancer Society, a routine cancer screening makes it possible to detect cancer before symptoms present themselves. The early detection made possible via such screenings also allows for more treatment options, say many of the same oncologists. 

Cancer Screening Tests and Who Should Get Them

According to the American Cancer Society, anyone aged 25 to 39 should be screened for cervical cancer.  The organization further recommends the following for those between the ages of 40 and 49:

  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Prostate cancer screening

The same data from the American Cancer Society says anyone age 50 and older should get the following:

  • Breast cancer screening
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • lung cancer screening if they are current or former smokers 
  • prostate cancer screening

Is There One General Test for Cancer?

No single test can detect all cancers, but complete blood count, tumor markers, blood protein, and circulating tumor cell tests can help physicians discover and officially diagnose many of them.  Computerized tomography (CT) scan, bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), positron emission tomography (PET) scan, ultrasound, X-rays, and other imaging tests can also help physicians detect cancer in a patient.

How To Arrange a Cancer Test

Getting a breast cancer screening, prostate cancer screening, or any other kind of screening for cancer will generally start with getting a referral from one’s primary care physician.  These physicians will recommend the appropriate screening based on an individual’s age, gender, lifestyle, and other factors.  Those who do not have a primary care physician or personal doctor can reach out to their local hospital or health department for assistance.  That assistance can be anything from getting survivor rate information relative to specific cancers and appropriate screenings based on age and other factors to appointment scheduling and everything in between.  Lastly, for low-income individuals and those without insurance, there are health centers that offer low-cost or free cancer screening tests.

Where Do You Go To Get Screened for Cancer?

Hospitals and community health centers are good locations to turn to if you’re interested in getting a cancer test. And they accept insurance and have very convenient hours, so there is no excuse for not being screened for this life-altering disease, especially if you meet any of the criteria detailed in this article. And if you’re still not yet convinced, you should know multiple studies show that the earlier cancer is detected, the greater the survivor rate. Bearing that in mind, consider scheduling a cancer test today.