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Cancer screenings help doctors find cancer before symptoms have a chance to develop. For many cancers, the earlier they are found, the easier they are to treat.
At Dignity Health Central California, we treat more than just the body. We treat the mind and the spirit, too. That’s why screening for signs of cancer is an important part of our work. Find a Doctor and schedule your cancer screenings in Central California.
Cancer screenings aim to catch cancer during its early stages before symptoms are obvious and when it’s most treatable. By the time symptoms appear, cancer is usually more advanced and difficult to treat. Some cancer screenings — for example, Pap tests for cervical cancer and colonoscopy for rectal and colon cancer — can identify precancerous tumors and stop cancer before it develops.
Certain cancers are more common — or only possible — in one gender. For example, prostate cancer only occurs in men and uterine cancer is only possible in women. That’s why there are different recommended cancer screenings for women and men. Men sometimes develop breast cancer, but doctors only recommend routine screening mammograms for women.
The type of cancer determines the specific test used for screening. Common methods include physical exams, imaging exams, laboratory tests, and genetic testing.
Cancer screenings are not without risk, but the benefits usually outweigh the risk of complications.
Any test used as a cancer screen can have a false positive or false negative result. False positive results signal cancer when none exists. They can lead to unnecessary follow-up tests and create a lot of anxiety. On the other hand, a false negative means the test didn’t find cancer that is actually present. This can lead to a delay in treatment and a more advanced stage of cancer at diagnosis.
You can go back to your normal activities right after most cancer screenings. Some, such as colonoscopy, do require a short recovery period.
If you are at an increased risk of cancer due to lifestyle, genetic, or environmental reasons, ask your Dignity Health Central California doctor which cancers screenings are right for you and how often you should have them.