Cancer screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who do not have any symptoms. Screening tests can find cancer early when it is easier to treat. Cancer screening can also help find cancers that are more likely to be cured.
What Can Blood Testing Tell Us About Cancer?
There are many blood tests that are used to screen for cancer. One of the most common tests is a complete blood count or CBC. A CBC measures the number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets in your blood. It also measures the amount of hemoglobin (a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen) and hematocrit (the percentage of red blood cells in your blood).
Another common blood test used to screen for cancer is the C-reactive protein (CRP) test. CRP is a protein that is released into the bloodstream when there is inflammation in the body. Inflammation can be caused by infection, injury, or disease. CRP levels can be high in people with cancer, especially if cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
How Does Cancer Screening Work?
There are different types of cancer screening tests. Some screenings use x-rays or other imaging tests to look for tumors. Other screenings look for certain changes in the cells of the body. The most common type of cancer screening test is a blood test that looks for signs of cancer in the blood.
Screening Tests for Breast Cancer
One common type of cancer screening is a mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts. Mammograms can find breast cancers early when they are easier to treat.
Screening Tests for Prostate Cancer
Another common type of cancer screening is a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test. The PSA test is a blood test that looks for a protein called prostate-specific antigen. The PSA test can find prostate cancers early when they are easier to treat.
Screening Tests for Colon Cancer
Colon cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the United States. A screening test for colon cancer is called a fecal occult blood test (FOBT). The FOBT is a test that looks for blood in the stool. This test can find colon cancers early when they are easier to treat.
Screening Tests for Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the United States. A screening test for lung cancer is called a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan. LDCT scans use x-rays to look for tumors in the lungs. LDCT scans can find lung cancers early when they are easier to treat.
Screening Tests for Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in women. A screening test for ovarian cancer is called a transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS). TVUS is a test that uses sound waves to look for tumors in the ovaries. TVUS can find ovarian cancers early when they are easier to treat.
Pap Smear and HPV Test
There are two main cancer screening tests for men: the Pap smear and the HPV test. The Pap smear is a test that can detect early signs of cervical cancer in women. The HPV test can detect early signs of cervical, penile, anal, and oral cancers in men.
The best time to get a Pap smear is when you have a pelvic exam. The best time to get an HPV test is when you have a rectal exam. Your doctor may also recommend other cancer screenings based on your age and health history.
A colonoscopy is a test that can detect early signs of colorectal cancer in men. The best time to get a colonoscopy is when you are 50 years old or older.
If you have risk factors for colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend a colonoscopy at a younger age. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include smoking, obesity, a family history of colorectal cancer, and having polyps in your colon.