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The goal of cancer screenings is to find signs of cancer before symptoms develop. Many cancers are easier to treat in their early stages.
Dignity Health North State oncologists have access to the latest advances in technology for diagnosing cancer. Early detection can be an important part of your journey to healing. Find a Doctor who can provide the recommended cancer screenings in Northern California for you.
Cancer screenings can find many cancers at very early stages before they cause symptoms and when they are most treatable. Once symptoms become obvious, cancer is typically more advanced and harder to treat. Sometimes cancer screenings — including colonoscopy for colon and rectal cancer and Pap tests for cervical cancer — can find precancerous lesions and prevent cancer from developing.
Some types of cancer are more common or only possible in one gender, so doctors recommend different cancer screenings for men and women. Examples include uterine cancer in women and prostate cancer in men. It’s possible for men to develop breast cancer, but are only used as a routine screening test for women.
The type of test used to screen for cancer depends on the type of cancer. Typical methods include genetic testing, imaging exams, laboratory tests, and physical exams.
Cancer screenings can save your life, but they’re not without risk. However, complications are rare and usually the benefits outweigh the risks. Colonoscopy, for example, carries risks from sedation and potential bleeding, but it can detect precancerous tissue before a problem starts.
All cancer screenings can have false negative and false positive results. A false negative result means the test failed to detect existing cancer. This can lead to a delay in treatment and a more advanced stage of cancer at the eventual diagnosis. False positive results indicate cancer when none is present. They can lead to unnecessary follow-up tests and create a lot of anxiety.
Most cancer screenings do not require any downtime. You can go back to your normal activities right away. Others, such as a colonoscopy, only require a short recovery period.
If you are at an increased risk of cancer due to environmental, genetic, or lifestyle factors, talk honestly with your doctor about whether you need cancer screenings more frequently than other people.