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Cancer screenings are tests that look for signs of cancer before you have symptoms. The goal of cancer screenings is to find cancer early, in its most treatable stages. Some screenings can prevent cancer by finding precancerous changes.
At Dignity Health, we are dedicated to providing specialized, world-class cancer care that puts your needs first. Our University of Arizona Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center headquartered in Arizona. If you are interested in cancer screenings in Arizona, Find a Doctor near you today or call 844.214.5236 (8222).
Cancer is most treatable in its early stages, so finding cancer before symptoms develop is ideal.
Cancer that causes noticeable symptoms is generally more advanced and more difficult to treat. If your screening reveals precancerous changes, it may be possible to prevent cancer from developing. Examples include colonoscopy, which can find precancerous polyps, and Pap tests, which can find precancerous changes in cervical cells.
Cancers that occur in both men and women often have the same screening recommendations for both sexes. However, there are cancers that are specific to men or women, including uterine cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. Because breast cancer is rare in men, regular screenings are only recommended for women.
Talk with your doctor about your need for cancer screenings. If you are at an increased risk for a particular cancer, you may need earlier or more frequent screenings than what is recommended for most people.
Cancer screenings can involve physical exams, imaging tests, lab tests, and genetic testing. What happens during your specific screening will depend on the cancer type. Cancer screenings can have complications but, typically, the benefits of screening outweigh the risks.
Be aware that cancer screenings have the potential to produce inaccurate results. A false positive says you have cancer when you really do not, leading to unnecessary follow-up procedures and tests. A false negative says you do not have cancer when actually you do — allowing the cancer to become more advanced before diagnosis. Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of any cancer screening you are considering.
Recovery is specific to every type of cancer screening. In most cases, you will not have a recovery period and you can resume normal activity immediately. Sometimes, such as after a colonoscopy, you will need a short time to recover. Your doctor can tell you what to expect from your cancer screening.