In the fight against cancer, early detection can be a key defense, allowing for earlier treatment and improved outcomes. Southcoast Health is here to help with convenient scheduling for these important screening tests.
At Southcoast Health, we offer colorectal cancer screenings to increase your chances of early detection. Our screenings can help find precancerous polyps, so that they can be surgically removed before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Regular screenings can also help find colorectal cancer in the early stages, when treatments for this type of cancer work most effectively.
Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing colon cancer, including:
- Age — 90% of colon cancers occur in people 50 and older
- Family or personal history of colorectal polyps or cancer
- Genetics — 5 to 10% of colon cancers are related to mutations in genes and genetic syndromes
- Personal history of inflammatory bowel disease — ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Lifestyle factors, such as obesity, not exercising, smoking, poor diet and heavy alcohol use
The Southcoast Lung Cancer Screening Program offers low-dose CT scan screenings to people who are at high risk for developing lung cancer.
To qualify for the screening, you must meet the following criteria:
- Age 55 to 80
- Smoking history of greater than 30 pack years (calculated by multiplying the number of packs of cigarettes smoked per day by the number of years the person has smoked)
- If ex-smoker, quit within the last 15 years
- No personal history of previous lung cancer
A mammogram screening can find many breast cancers before symptoms develop. Women should start getting annual mammograms between ages 40 to 45 depending on their breast cancer risk. Regular screenings, typically once a year, should continue as long as your doctor recommends. The most common symptom is a lump or mass. Others include:
- Change in size, shape or appearance of the breast or nipple
- Inverted nipple or nipple discharge that isn’t breast milk
- Skin changes on the breast or nipple
- Swelling of part or all of the breast
Many doctors consider screening optional for those with average risk, says Dennis LaRock, MD, Co-Chief of Urology and Chief of Robotic Surgery at Southcoast. “That’s because not every case of prostate cancer demands intervention, and many men who are diagnosed can go into what is called an active surveillance program,” he says. “It’s really a conversation that starts with your primary care provider, and if you decide to be screened, you can further discuss the implications of the results with a specialist.” Screening for prostate cancer includes a blood test called a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test and a rectal exam.
- PSA/rectal exam guidelines
- Average risk: Start at age 55, if desired
- Follow-up: Every year until age 70
- High-risk screening: African-American men and men who have a first-degree relative on the father’s side with prostate cancer should begin screening earlier. Many doctors will perform a baseline screening for high-risk men starting in their 40s and start regular screenings when a high-risk patient turns 50, says Dr. LaRock.