September is a big month for fighting cancer. In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) promotes awareness for more types of cancers during this month than in any other month of the year. They are:
• Childhood Cancer • Gynecologic Cancer • Leukemia and Lymphoma • Ovarian Cancer • Prostate Cancer • Thyroid Cancer
know that many people who read this blog are caring for seniors in
their lives, and that sometimes it’s hard to put their own health first.
But with all the attention these types of cancers will be getting over
the next few weeks, there are a lot of good reminders to schedule a full
health screening to ensure that you have your best shot at early
detection -- and treatment, if necessary.
Most women know the
ACS’s recommendations for breast cancer screening (yearly mammograms
starting at age 40, clinical breast exams about every three years for
younger women, regular self-examination for all women), but not everyone
is familiar with the guidelines for how often you should be screened
for other types of cancer.
For example, women over 40 should have a
pelvic exam to look for gynecological cancers (including ovarian) at
least once a year – more often if they are in a high risk category. This
is in addition to their annual Pap smear – although women who have had a
total hysterectomy or who are over 70 and their Pap smear has been
normal for 10 years, may forego the Pap.
For colorectal cancer and polyps, the ACS recommends the following testing schedule after age 50, for both men and women: Tests that find polyps and cancer: • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or • Colonoscopy every 10 years, or • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years or • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years
Tests that primarily find cancer: • Yearly fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) or • Yearly fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year or • Stool DNA test (sDNA)
cancer screening guidelines are a little less cut and dried, due to a
high rate of false positives. The ACS’s stance is this: Starting at
age 50, men should talk to a doctor about the pros and cons of testing
so they can decide if testing is the right choice for them. If they are
African American or have a father or brother who had prostate cancer
before age 65, men should have this talk with a doctor starting at age
While different types of cancers have different recommended
screening frequencies, many of them have one thing in common: early
detection can be the difference between being a victim and being a
Please make time for your own good health this
September, and remember that we are always available for respite care if
you need a break. Just contact us!
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