Screening Recommendations

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The American Cancer Society, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and the American Heart Association have made the following recommendations on when people should be screened for the diseases listed below. As with any medical condition, if you have any question, you should consult your physican.

Cancer of the lung is the leading cause of death from cancer in both men and women in the U.S. During the year 2000, there will be about 164,100 new cases of lung cancer in this country and about 156,900 people will die of lung cancer. Lung cancer has one of the poorest prognoses of all cancers, with a 5-year survival rate of less than 13 percent.

Screening for lung cancer

  • There are no screening tests in place for early detection of lung cancer
  • The average age of people with lung cancer is 60
  • Tobacco is associated with 87% of lung cancers

Colorectal cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the U.S. and has the second highest mortality rate, accounting for about 140,000 new cases and about 55,000 deaths each year.

Screening for colorectal cancer
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these five screening options:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Yearly fecal occult blood test plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Double contrast barium enema every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
The American Cancer Society recommends people should begin colorectal cancer screening earlier and/or undergo screening more often if they have any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors:
  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Families with hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes
  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease

Cancer of the skin is the most common of all cancers. It accounts for nearly half of all cancers. About 1.3 million cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer (the most common of skin cancers) are found in this country each year.

Screening for skin cancer

  • Like lung cancer, there are no screening tests for skin cancer, but a physician can examine the skin for suspicious lesions and perform a biopsy
  • The following are risks factors for skin cancer: too much exposure to strong sunlight, fair skin, hair eyes, certain types of moles, freckles and men are twice to three times as likely to develop certain types of skin cancer

Approximately 183,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and approximately 40,800 women will die from breast cancer in 2000. Over 75% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are age 50 or older.

Screening for breast cancer

  • Women aged 20-39 should have a clinical breast exam every three years and should perform monthly breast self-examination
  • All women aged 40 and over should get a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year, and perform monthly breast self-examination
  • Women at particularly high risk should talk with their doctors about starting screening earlier

In the year 2000, the American Cancer Society predicts that there will be about 12,800 new cases of cervical cancer and about 4,600 women will die from this disease.

Screening for cervical cancer

  • Routine screening with a Papanicolaou (Pap) testing is recommended for all women who are or have been sexually active and who have a cervix
  • Pap tests should begin with the onset of sexual activity and should be repeated at least every 3 years

Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer found in American men after skin cancer. There will be about 180,400 new cases of prostate cancer in the U.S. for the year 2000 and about 31,900 men will die of this disease. Although men of any age can get prostate cancer, it is found most often in men over 50, with more than 8 out of ten of the men with prostate cancer over the age of 65. Prostate cancer is about twice as common among African-American men as it is among white American men.

Screening for prostate cancer

  • The American Cancer Society recommends beginning at age 50, all men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy should be offered a PSA (prostate specific antigen) blood test and a digital rectal exam
  • Men in high-risk groups (African Americans, men with close family members who have had prostate cancer diagnosed at a young age) should begin testing at 45 years of age

The American Cancer Society estimates that for the year 2001, about 7,200 new cases of testicular cancer will be diagnosed in the U.S. and about 400 men will die of testicular cancer in 2001. Testicular cancer is one of the most curable forms of the disease.

Screening for testicular cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends testicular examination during routine cancer-related checkups

The American Heart Association reports that since 1900, cardiovascular disease (CVD) has been the No. 1 killer in the United States every year but 1918. More than 2,600 Americans die of CVD each day, an average of 1 death every 33 seconds, And CVD claimed 949,619 lives in the U.S. in 1998. CVD claims almost 10,500 more lives each yar than the next 6 leading causes of death combined and 60,800,000 Americans have one or more types of cardiovascular disease.

Risk Factors

  • Tobacco use
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor nutrition

Screening for cardiovascular disease
  • Periodic screening for high blood cholesterol is recommended for all men ages 35-65 and women ages 45-65
  • Periodic screening for hypertension is recommended for all persons 21 years of age and older
  • Doctors can also use various techniques (electrocardiogram, magnetic resonance imaging, computerized axial tomographic scans) to check if the heart has suffered any damage
(Source: American Cancer Society, The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Heart Association, CDC)