Annual Cancer Checklist for Men and Women: Warning Signs, Tests, and Risk Factors (Part 4)

Annual Cancer Checklist Part 4 - Warning Signs, Tests, and Risk FactorsThe word “cancer” has become so normal in people’s everyday lives that some individuals are starting to think that it is a fact of life, something that could eventually be the cause of their deaths sometime in the near future. This unpredictable disease has consumed millions of lives over the years and up until now, there has been no cure for it. This article on cancer checklist aims to help people prepare for a disease that is so unpredictable, sometimes it is just too late to even try to stop it. For a comprehensive look into cancer and how it affected millions of people last year, check out the American Cancer Society’s 2013 Cancer Facts and Statistics here.

In the previous article, we talked about screening recommendations that people under a certain category should be taking so that early identification can be made, in the event that they have developed a certain type of cancer. Although nobody wants to develop such a horrible disease, there is no telling when it will strike or who it will affect, since the cells that make up cancer are abnormal cells that originated from the very body it is attacking.

The last screening recommendations discussed were for individuals under the age category of 20 to 29. Here’s the continuation:

30 to 39
When you’ve reached 30, it is advisable to continue the tests recommended for twenty somethings, which are colon, breast, and cervical cancer tests. Breast and cervical cancer tests should be done every three years, although you should see a doctor earlier than usual if your see any signs of abnormality. At this point women are advised to take both a pap test and an HPV test together every five years, but for pap test alone, the recommended time is every three years. For cervical cancer screenings, women do not have to go through it if they have already undergone hysterectomy that removed the cervix and the uterus, granted that the reasons were not cancer-related.

40 to 49
Once individuals have reached their forties, breast, colon, and cervical cancer tests for women and colon cancer tests for men should be continued. The only additional screening to take is for men, which is prostate cancer testing. At this stage in their lives men are now at a higher-than-average risk of getting prostate cancer. African American men have a higher risk of getting prostate cancer than men in other races. This also goes the same for men who have a family history of cancer, specifically those who have fathers, brothers, or even sons with prostate cancer, especially if they acquired it before they were 65 years of age. Again, women belonging to this age group should have mammograms every year instead of the usual three years, as risks grow higher as people age.

50 to 65
If you are aged 50 to 65 years old and are just starting to get checked now, then do not worry. Consult with a trusted doctor on what screening options are best for you. Follow the same recommendations as is stated in the previous age category.

Over 65
If you are over 65 and have not had any kind of cancer test prior to reading this, then tests are recommended as soon as possible. Colon and other cancer tests are covered under Medicare, so it shouldn’t be a financial burden to you at this point. Seniors who want to add at least ten more years to their age should have a good discussion with a trusted medical professional about the risks and uncertainties, as well as the benefits of annual testing. It is crucial for people aged 65 and over to very carefully weigh their options and see if they still want to be tested.

Women who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results before reaching this age category do not need further testing. The only exemption is that if they have a history of cervical pre-cancer, which is where they are advised to continue undergoing tests for 20 years after being diagnosed.
Cancer Prevention Tips

  • Schedule an appointment with a doctor to discuss about cancer screening exams, as well as common signs and symptoms of the disease

  • Check your skin for any abnormalities, especially in moles, freckles, and birthmarks

  • Learn breast self-exams and conduct them regularly; check for lumps and abnormalities

  • Regularly monitor blood pressure levels

  • Make sure your cholesterol is low

  • Watch out for diabetes

  • Have your bone density check by a doctor; avoid developing osteoporosis

  • Stay healthy; try not to become overweight or obese

  • Limit alcohol intake and smoking

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