Friday, June 15, 2012

Get Thee To A Screening

Recent news reports have called for changes in how frequently people should go for cancer screenings and that's raised all kinds of debate over what's truly appropriate and how the screenings affect health care costs, effectiveness, and life-expectancy.

Having a healthy debate over the issues is all well and good, but early detection is a major factor in getting good outcomes in any number of forms of cancer. That means regular screenings. You should absolutely talk with your doctors about screenings and how frequently you should go by looking at your family history, risk factors, and environmental factors.

Without a doubt, that means if you're a woman, that means going for regular mammograms.
For men, it means prostate and testicular cancer screenings (a federal panel of doctors found that regular screening for prostate cancer may not be worth the risks). It also means that if you find your body changing - are more fatigued or notice other physical changes that aren't easily explained to go see a doctor.

For everyone, that means regularly checking for skin cancer (which is the most common cancer there is with more than 2 million cases diagnosed annually but which has very high cure/remission rate). Skin cancer cases exceed the number of pretty much every other form of cancer combined.

Skin cancer screening is fairly simple - if you see something on your skin that doesn't look right (a mole that changes color, size, bleeds, etc.) you should go get it checked out.

It's a pain in the ass to go for regular screenings, but you know what's a bigger pain in the ass - waiting too long and finding out that you not only have a cancer, but that the docs have limited or no options. Early diagnoses can vastly increase chances of remission. The treatments might suck - and those are much improved from just a few years ago - but they're better than being dead (and leaving friends and families without their loved one).

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