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African American couple smiles after the male partner enters remission from prostate cancer.

Understanding the most formidable forms of cancer and ways to provide assistance

 

When it comes to any form of cancer, early detection is key. It allows for more treatment options, and with more options comes more hope. Discuss your family history and other risk factors with your primary care physician, as well as when you should start regular screenings. The top five most aggressive cancers are:

  1. Lung cancer
  2. Colorectal cancer
  3. Breast cancer
  4. Pancreatic cancer
  5. Prostate cancer

What difference does an early detection of cancer have?

The main benefit to finding cancer earlier is the improved five-year survival rate. More treatment options are available for consideration with cancers detected at stage I rather than stage IV. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, about 57% of people diagnosed with lung cancer at stage I survive the disease for five years or more, compared to 3% of those diagnosed at stage IV. Some common signs and symptoms of any form of cancer include fatigue, weight loss, swelling or lumps in any part of the body, pain, and more. However, many symptoms associated with cancer could also be signs of other conditions. Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician if you experience anything unusual.

What is a five-year survival rate? It is the percentage of people with a specific diagnosis who are alive five years after receiving the diagnosis.

What cancer tests or screenings are available for each cancer?

The CDC recommends different ages to begin screenings for various cancers and conditions in both men and women. The following ages are for someone at average risk of these diseases. If you have a family history of any of these cancers, speak with your physician about when you should begin screening.

  1. Lung cancer is the most aggressive form of cancer. Smoking and tobacco use are the major causes of it. Low-dose CT scans, which can detect cancer earlier, have improved survival rates for those with lung cancer, even among heavy smokers.
  2. Most colorectal cancer cases begin as small, benign cells that become cancerous over time. Physicians use screenings, like colonoscopies, for the early detection and prevention of colorectal cancer. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends beginning screening at age 45.
  3. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. There are two techniques for early detection of breast cancer that women can use in unison: regular mammogram screenings and monthly breast self-exams. The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 to 74 years. However, women may choose to begin biennial screening between the ages of 40 and 49 years.
  4. There is currently no standard screening for pancreatic cancer. Those with a genetic tendency for pancreatic cancer can undergo routine endoscopic ultrasound or MRI/CT imaging.
  5. Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in men. There are two tests to check for prostate cancer: prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or digital rectal examination (DRE).

What role does our staff play from the screening process through cancer remission?

Our radiologists and other specialists want to make you feel comfortable while undergoing any regular screenings. We strive to have our service go beyond providing the standard of care to connect with our patients on a deeper level. We also have the latest technology available to develop the clearest and most precise scans.

The St. Joseph Health Cancer Center participates in research and has a continuous flow of studies and trials available to our patients. Our physicians have trained at some of the nation's most renowned medical centers, and we have the only fellowship-trained radiation oncologist in the Brazos Valley. Our nurses, specialists, and support team are dedicated to helping you and your loved ones work through treatment and recovery with a multidisciplinary treatment plan designed just for you.

Reach out to one of our oncologists to learn more, or visit your St. Joseph and Texas A&M Health Network primary care physician to discuss which screenings are right for you.

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