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Diagnosis and Treatment

Cancer Screening

Diagnosing cancer at its earliest stages often provides the best chance for a cure. With this in mind, talk with your doctor about what types of cancer screening may be appropriate for you.

The American Cancer Society external link recommends screening for the following cancers in adults considered to have an average risk of cancer:

Type of cancer Who should consider screening?
Breast cancer Women 40 and older; earlier for those at high risk
Cervical cancer Women 21 or older, or beginning three years after first sexual intercourse
Colon cancer Men and women 50 and older; earlier for those at high risk
Prostate cancer Men 50 and older; age 40 for some men

Download a cancer health screening table PDF 22KB for more information.

Cancer Diagnosis

picture of woman getting mammogram

Your doctor may use one or more approaches to diagnose cancer:

  • Physical exam: During a physical exam your doctor may look for any abnormalities, such as changes in skin color, enlargement of an organ or lumps that may indicate possible cancer.

  • Laboratory tests: Laboratory tests, such as urine and blood tests, may help your doctor identify abnormalities that can be caused by cancer.

  • Imaging tests: Imaging tests allow your doctor to examine your bones and internal organs in a noninvasive way. Imaging tests used in diagnosing cancer may include computerized tomography (CT) scan, bone scan, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound and X-ray.

  • Biopsy: During a biopsy, your doctor collects a sample of cells for testing in the laboratory. In the laboratory, doctors look at biopsy samples under the microscope for abnormalities.

Cancer Treatment

There are many treatment choices for cancer. Treatment options depend on the type of cancer, the stage of the cancer and other factors such as age, health status and personal preferences.

Take an active role in your treatment by researching each treatment method. You should discuss with your doctor which treatment choices are best for you. Don't be afraid to ask questions.


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