February is National Cancer Prevention Month, designated to drive awareness about lifestyle choices that may lead to cancer and to provide early detection information. Cancer screening awareness is important for older adults because test recommendations vary for different age groups. Cancer Screening tests carry both pros and cons and should be discussed with a health professional. Screening knowledge provides the power to make the best decisions for your particular situation.
Effects of Cancer Screening Awareness
Regular health screenings empower us with personal health knowledge. This knowledge then also gives us the possibility to stall, stop, or receive health-issue support that allows us to lead our best lives. The American Cancer Society provides cancer screening recommendations for average-risk seniors–those whose genetics and lifestyle do not present high risk. For many older adults, cancer screenings may be beneficial. The cancer mortality rate has steadily declined over the past two decades – down 26 percent from 1991, largely due to early detection from screenings. The National Cancer Institute estimates that by 2024, approximately 19 million people will be living beyond a cancer diagnosis, whereas in 2014 that number was estimated at 14.5 million.
Screening Suggestions for Men:
- Colon cancer testing should begin at age 50. It is recommended for those 65 and older. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best test type (as there are many) and about how often to get tested.
- Prostate cancer testing should be discussed with your healthcare provider at age 50 and should depend on overall health when over 65. Talk with your healthcare provider about uncertainties, risks, and benefits.
- Lung cancer testing should be discussed with your healthcare provider at age 55 or older. Low-dose CT scans for early detection should be discussed. The same is recommended for those age 65 or older who have smoked.
Screening Suggestions for Women:
- Annual mammograms are recommended for women age 50-54. At 55, mammograms are only recommended every two years, or annually if preferred. Learn the screening pros and cons. Mammograms should be every two years or annually for those 65 or older. If at high risk for breast cancer, ask your healthcare provider if other tests should accompany the mammogram.
- Women should get a Pap test and HPV test every five years or just a Pap test every three years, between the ages of 50 and 64. No testing is needed after a hysterectomy that removed the uterus and cervix – if the removal was unrelated to cervical cancer. No cervical cancer testing is needed for those over 65 if results were normal during the previous 10 years.
- Colon cancer testing should start at 50. There are several testing options that ought to be discussed with your healthcare provider. At 65 or older, testing is also recommended. Talk with your healthcare provider about the best test type and how often to do it.
- Lung cancer testing should be discussed with your healthcare provider when over 55. Low-dose CT scans for early lung cancer detection should be discussed at that time. At 65 or older, and with a smoking history, the same recommendation is given.
Some lifestyle practices to consider:
Note: Each individual should follow the advice of their medical professionals or doctors and speak with them before making changes to diet, exercise, or supplements. This post is for informational use only and should not be considered medical advice.