There are powerful reasons that to many, cancer is the dreaded Big C. Everyone knows someone fighting a battle with cancer or who has died from it.
While many diagnosed individuals live to tell their tale, there is that initial confrontation with mortality that can be hard to overcome. Fortunately, with the improvements in modern medicine, there are good cancer detection tests that should be part of routine screening.
1) Pap smear and HPV testing
The guidelines have recently changed for Pap tests as women. Women were asked to go yearly. But now those women over 30 years of age, in a monogamous relationship, who've never had an abnormal Pap can go every three years (Pap only) or every five years (Pap plus HPV test).4
This is a blanket recommendation. All women should discuss an individualized plan with their health care provider for testing for HPV which is the virus that causes cervical cancer.
Early detection of abnormal cells mean that conditions can often be easily treated before they ever even close to becoming cancer.
There are mixed reviews on mammograms because of the number of false positives, the emotional strife it takes on a woman called back for more imaging, and the extra radiation to the breasts.
It's important to understand that 90 percent of stage 1 breast cancer has a 5-year survival rate.
Some women believe that they will be able to feel a lump in their breast and can then get their mammogram at that time. But stage 1 breast cancer lumps can be as small as 0.2 millimeters. This is very, very tiny and not detectable through a breast exam, either by yourself or your doctor.
While mammograms are not perfect, they play a strong role in cancer prevention.
3) Fecal occult test
This simple at-home test determines whether or not there is blood in the stool not visible to the naked eye. This is important as blood in the stool could be a symptom of colorectal cancer.