What is Cancer Screening?

What is Cancer Screening?

Cancer screening is the process of looking for cancer before a person demonstrates symptoms. By the time symptoms appear, a cancer has grown large enough to disrupt the body’s normal function.

There are several types of screening tests:

  • Physical Exam: A full-body exam that assesses a patient’s overall health and records illnesses, treatments or surgeries, and health habits.
  • Laboratory Tests: Procedures which test and analyze patient tissue, blood, or other samples for signs of disease or illness.
  • Imaging Procedures: Diagnostic imaging procedures refer to several different techniques that allow a doctor to look inside your body without making an incision. These methods include CT, X-rays, and MRI scans among others.
  • Genetic Tests: Tests which look for gene mutations that are associated with certain types of cancer.

Cancer screening is not perfect, and there are some associated risks. Finding a cancer may not improve person’s chances of successful treatment or living longer. There is no way to know whether treating an asymptomatic cancer will help a person live longer. In addition to this, many treatments for cancer cause side effects.

Risks of cancer screening include:

  • False-positive results: The test indicates that cancer is present when it is not. This may lead to unnecessary treatment that can have its own set of risks and side effects.
  • False-negative results: The test indicates that there is no cancer present when it is actually there. This can delay treatment when it is needed.
  • Damage or other problems: Some tests may cause tissue damage or bleeding.

However, it’s still important to be screened for cancer. Many types of cancer are easier to treat when caught early. Consult with your doctor about when and how often you should be screened for cancer.

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(864) 512-4600
AnMed Cancer Center, 2000 E Greenville St, Anderson, SC 29621

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