Cancer screening is important because it can detect cancers at an early stage (often before symptoms develop) providing an increased opportunity for cure or prolonging life. In some cases, screening can even prevent cancer from occurring by detecting growths or abnormalities before they become cancer such as may be the case with colonoscopies and skin cancer screenings.
Cancer screening can be performed in a variety of ways such as:
Physical examination: such as rectal exam for colon and prostate cancer
Laboratory testing: such as PSA blood tests for prostate cancer and PAP smears for cervical cancer
Genetic testing: used to determine risk for some breast cancers
Imaging Procedures: such as mammography for breast cancer
Screening tests can be applied to the general population, or to specific populations or groups at high risk for cancer due to factors such as family history, age, genetics or occupation.
Why Screen for Cancer?
American Cancer Society’s Screening Guidelines
Many cancers respond to treatment and / or are cured if they can be identified early, usually before they cause symptoms.
The goal of screening tests is to identify as many people with cancer as possible. The screening tool is applied to those who have a higher risk of having cancer compared to the entire population. The higher risk could be due to age, family history, or genetics.
As with all tests, screening tests are not foolproof. Because screening tests are intended to identify as many people as possible with cancer, they can produce results that indicate an increased risk of cancer, but further testing reveals no cancer. On the other hand some cancer testing will not indicate cancer, but in fact the person is found to have it. Therefore, cancer screening patients should understand that some people may be subjected to further testing to prove or disprove the existence of cancer, and sometimes cancer may be missed by screening.
What Does This Mean for You?
By becoming proactive and following the recommended screening guidelines, you will be taking a step to;
- Catch cancer early when it is most treatable
- In some cases, prevent cancer before it starts
No Cost Cancer Screening Services in Suffolk County
The New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program offers no cost breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening to uninsured women and men in Eastern and Western Suffolk County.
Cancer Services Program of Suffolk County at (631) 548-6320