Part of aging is taking care of your mental and physical health. A small, but significant way to stay in good health, is to visit your primary care doctor for a physical once a year. Depending on your age and family history, it might be time for you to have one or more types of cancer screening, even if you haven’t had any symptoms. No one likes to think about the possibility of having cancer, but early detection is key in treatment.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Screenings for colon and rectal cancer should start as soon as age 50 for both men and women. If a colonoscopy is performed, it should be done every ten years. If other methods are used to test for the presence of cells, they should be done at least every five years. A family history means you should be screened at a much younger age.
Breast cancer is something all women need to start being tested for at age 40 with a mammogram every year to ensure that there have been no changes in the tissue. The need is even higher if you have a family history of breast cancer or a genetic predisposition to cancer. Women should examine their breasts regularly and look for irregularities or lumps.
Cervical cancer is one of the types of cancer all women need to be screened for at a young age. A PAP test should be conducted every three years on women between the ages of 21 and 29, and done every five years plus an HPV test every five years. Even if you’ve been vaccinated against HPV, you still need to be screened because nothing is 100 percent guaranteed.
Men should discuss being tested for prostate cancer with their doctors if they have a family history or once they reach age 50. Rates of prostate cancer are higher for those with a family history and African-American men.
Cancer is not completely preventable, but there are some actions you can take in your daily life to be healthier and reduce your risk of getting cancer. Get regular screenings, maintain a healthy weight, exercise on a regular basis, know your risk factors, and get educated about your family history on both sides of your family when it comes to all health conditions, especially those such as cancer which is higher in families.