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Cancer Prevention Screenings

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Prevention is the best medicine for avoiding certain types of cancers. The best way to prevent cancer or treat it early enough for a cure is through routine cancer screenings. Though there are over 200 types of cancers, only a few screenings exist that have been medically proven to lower the instances of death due to early diagnosis and treatment. Medicine Specialists at Florida Hospital will write prescriptions for lab work or radiology testing to screen, and hopefully prevent, the following cancers:

Cancer Screenings

Breast Cancer Screening or Mammogram

At the age of 40, women should have routine mammograms to check for breast cancer. If there is a family history of breast cancer, mammograms may be recommended earlier. A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts to look for changes that are not normal. The results are recorded on x-ray film or directly into a computer for a doctor called a radiologist to examine.

A mammogram allows the doctor to have a closer look for changes in breast tissue that cannot be felt during a breast exam. It is used for women who have no breast complaints and for women who have breast symptoms, such as a change in the shape or size of a breast, a lump, nipple discharge, or pain. Breast changes occur in almost all women. In fact, most of these changes are not cancer and are called “benign,” but only a doctor can know for sure. Breast changes can also happen monthly, due to your menstrual period.

Though there are additional cancer screenings and tests available, such as prostate or testicular cancer, as well as genetic cancer testing for breast and ovarian cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2) for individuals who have a family history or are at higher risk of developing certain cancers, they have not been proven to decrease the likelihood that someone may or may not be diagnosed with cancer; and may or may not die from it.

Cervical Cancer Screening or Pap Test

It is essential that every woman, especially those that are sexually active, get a Pap smear, also called a Pap test as part of her well-woman exam. Pap smears check for changes in the cells of your cervix, the lower part of your uterus that opens into your vagina. Specifically, the Pap test results can indicate if you have an infection, abnormal cervical cells or cervical cancer.

The physicians explain that regular Pap tests have led to a significant reduction in cervical cancer deaths because routine Pap smears can detect the earliest signs of cervical cancer such as abnormal cells and human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Early detection can save your life! So, make sure to schedule and get your Pap test every year.

Colon Cancer Screenings

Colon cancer is one of the very few cancers that can be prevented and detected early through diagnostic screenings. As you can imagine, colorectal cancer often begins with the formation of polyps in the colon. Polyps are small, rounded growths extending from the colon wall, attached by a narrower “stalk” of tissue. Polyps themselves are harmless, but some may develop into cancer if not removed. Since polyps and early-stage colon cancer are “silent” – producing no symptoms – screening procedures are the only means of detecting and treating them.

Colon cancer screening should begin at 50 for most people, however, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer, screenings could start as early as 40.

Medicine Specialists at Florida Hospital advices, the most effective method of colon cancer screening involves looking for and removing colon polyps. This is done using a routine and painless procedure called colonoscopy. Another less-invasive colon cancer screening, called a sigmoidoscopy, can also be performed.

If there isn’t a family history, yet a patient wants to start screenings earlier than 50, the practice may recommend a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), a virtual colonoscopy or double contrast barium enema (DCBE).

Types of Colon Cancer Screening

  • Colonoscopy
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE)
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Virtual Colonoscopy

The difference between colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy is related to which parts of the colon each can examine. Sigmoidoscopy, the less-invasive and less risky of the two, allows Dr. Apter to view only the lower part of the colon, while colonoscopy allows him to view both the upper and lower sections.

Both screenings require emptying the colon the day before the procedure via a medical solution. After the proper steps to ensure the colon is empty, a camera mounted on a catheter (long, flexible, tube-like device) is introduced through the rectum. Images from the camera are viewed on a monitor. If a polyp is detected, it can be removed immediately using a device also delivered to the site by catheter.

Contact Medicine Specialists at Florida Hospital at 407.303.7270 to learn more about the cancer prevention screenings available.