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9 months ago
Types of screening tests for different types of cancer

Prevention is one of the most important cancer-fighting tools. Screening your body periodically for cancer symptoms is recommended, especially for some people who are at a high risk. Getting cancer screening tests done regularly may help find breast, cervical, lung and colorectal (colon) cancers early on when the treatment is likely to work effectively. There are numerous detection and prevention tests that can be used to detect cancer. One should not rely on just one test but rather take all clinical factors into consideration to back up a diagnosis. Dr Tejinder Kataria, Chairperson, Radiation Oncology – ‎Medanta, The Medicity Hospital explains the different types of screening tests for common types of cancer. Also common tests to determine your risk of cancer!

The screening tests depend on the types of cancer

Lung cancer: The only recommended screening test for lung cancer is low-dose computed tomography (also called a low-dose CT scan, or LDCT). In this test, an X-ray machine scans the body and uses low doses of radiation to take detailed images of the lungs.

Prostate cancer: Digital rectal exam (DRE) where a doctor inserts a lubricated finger into the rectum to estimate the size of the prostate to feel for lumps or other abnormalities. The Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test helps measure the level of PSA in the blood which is a tumour marker for prostate cancer but can be elevated in infection or inflammation of the prostate also. Hence, a patient with high PSA should see a doctor before making a self-diagnosis of cancer.

Liver cancer: Alpha-fetoprotein blood test is sometimes used, along with ultrasound of the liver, to detect liver cancer early in people at high risk of the disease. Liver cancer is commonly seen in people who have had hepatitis B or hepatitis C or are habituated to alcohol. Vaccination for hepatitis B and lower intake of alcohol can prevent cancer of the liver.

Breast cancer: Breast self-awareness, i.e. checking yourself once a month to see if there are any changes in the breast and mammograms (a specialized x-ray of the breast) every year after the age of 40 is the best way to detect breast cancer early when it is curable.

Cervical cancer: The Pap test can find abnormal cells in the cervix which may turn into cancer. Pap tests also can find cervical cancer early, when the chance of being treated is very high. Besides Pap smear, vaccination against human Papillomavirus (HPV) can prevent cervical cancer in 50% of recipients.

Colorectal cancer: Occult blood tested in stool and colonoscopy/sigmoidoscopy help prevent colorectal cancer as they can detect abnormal colon growths (polyps) that can be removed before they develop into cancer. A tumour marker, CEA in simple blood test can also help in picking up colon cancer early.

Ovarian cancer: CA-125 blood test, often done together with a transvaginal ultrasound, may be used to try to detect ovarian cancer early, especially in women with an increased risk of the disease.

Image Source: Shutterstock

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