Early detection of cancer is crucial for successful treatment and avoidance of pain. It is particularly pertinent for cancers of the breast, cervix, colorectal, prostate, mouth, pharynx, oesophagus and stomach. Screening through examinations or other methods is a plausible way to determine an unrecognised disease or defect.
Early signs of cancer
- Sores that fail to heal
- Abnormal bleeding
- Persistent indigestion
- Chronic hoarseness
Guidelines for early detection of cancer
The following cancer screening guidelines are for those, who are at an average risk of having cancer and don’t have any specific symptoms. A different screening schedule should be followed by people who are at increased risk for certain cancers which includes starting at an earlier age or being screened more often. Those people with symptoms that indicate cancer need to see the doctor immediately.
For people aged 20 and older appearing for periodic health exams, a cancer related checkup should include health counselling. Depending on the person’s age and gender, it might also include exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, pharynx, larynx, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries.
It is the only screening method that has proven to be effective, reducing breast cancer mortality by 20 to 30 per cent in women over 50 years old, when the screening coverage is over 70 per cent.
Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Even though there is no proof regarding results pertaining to this kind of screening, it enables women to become more aware and responsible for their health. It is essential for women to know how their breasts behave in a normal state, and when they need to be worried.
Screening for cervical cancer
It is intended to identify precancerous changes before they turn into cancer. In case of any abnormalities found during screening, there should be a follow-up, which includes diagnosis and treatment to prevent the development of cancer. The Pap smear (cytology) is the only test that has been used in large populations and has been instrumental in reducing cervical cancer incidence and mortality. It is recommended that women should start screening for cervical cancer before they are 21, or about 3 years after they begin having vaginal intercourse.
Cancer, if diagnosed at an early stage, is likely to be treated successfully. If the cancer has spread, treatment becomes more difficult, and generally a person’s chances of surviving become much lower.