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Cancer Screenings Can Catch Disease When Easier to Treat

Screenings exist for top three causes of cancer deaths in men and women

DAYTON, Ohio (November 13, 2015) – Americans not only worry more about cancer than any other health issue, but also believe that there isn’t much they can do to protect themselves from the disease, according to the American Institute for Cancer Research

The fact is that there are ways individuals can protect themselves from cancer such as choosing to lead a healthy lifestyle and taking an active part in available screenings for certain types of cancer. 

“Cancer is the second-leading cause of death in America,” says Mark Ringle, MD, a Premier HealthNet physician with Beavercreek Family Physicians. “Each year, lung, breast, prostate and colon cancer claim the most deaths, yet screenings are available for each one.”

 According to the National Cancer Institute(NCI), one of the main benefits of early screening is that it can help find cancer at a stage before symptoms appear. Some cancers are easier to treat or cure when it is found earlier. Cancer that is discovered through symptoms may be a sign that it has grown and spread, making it difficult to treat or cure, the NCI says.

It’s important for individuals to remember that just because a doctor suggests a screening test doesn’t mean they think that person has cancer. Screening recommendations are often set by national health organizations such as the American College of Surgeons. These recommendations can shift as research reveals new information about cancer, how it develops and who has been found to be at a greater risk for developing it.

Several factors determine who should be screened for different cancers. A person’s own health, age, family history and known risk factors play an important role, Dr. Ringle says. 

“Behavior – such as smoking, obesity and excessive alcohol consumption – can affect your risk for many kinds of cancer,” he says. “But for the things someone can’t change – genetics, family history and gender – there are screening tools that can help detect these cancers early. The long-term goal is not just treatment, but prevention and screening is our methodology.”

Lung cancer causes the most cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States. It is now recommended that those with a history of smoking be screened for lung cancer. Breast cancer and prostate cancer are both the second leading cause of death for women and men respectively. Screenings such as a mammography for women or the PSA blood test for men can help detect these cancers early.

Dr. Ringle said there are many ways that individuals can play an active role in cancer screenings:

Educate yourself – Become aware of what screenings are recommended for your age and gender. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force was created to set evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services such as cancer screenings. These recommendations can be viewed on its website ( uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org). Recommendations can also be set by other governing bodies such as the American College of Gynecology or the American Cancer Society.

Know your risk factors – Understand how your age, family history, gender and health can play a role in putting you at a higher risk for certain cancers. If you suspect you may be at high-risk for certain cancers such as breast, lung or colon talk to a physician about what screenings are available.

Go beyond screenings – Evaluate your behaviors and lifestyle and think about areas that can be changed to reduce your risk for certain cancers. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that one-third of cancer cases in first-world countries are related directly to obesity. Weight management, smoking cessation, low alcohol consumption and proper sun protection can all help lower one’s risk for certain cancers.

Partner with a practitioner – A regular relationship with a primary care physician or specialist such as a gynecologist or urologist will help someone know if and when they need to be screened for certain cancers. Physicians are continually updated on new cancer recommendations as well as educated on a patient’s health history.

“One of the advantages of primary care is longitudinal care that goes from visit to visit and is able to follow a problem or detect a new one over time,” Dr. Ringle says. “A primary care doctor can help oversee a patient’s care and initiate screenings when it is appropriate.”

For more information on cancer screenings or to find a Premier HealthNet physician near you, visit  www.premierhealthnet.com/doctor.

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