Screening is a key component of prevention. Cancer prognosis can be exponentially better if you can catch the disease in its early stages. The survival rate for breast cancer, for example, is 98 percent at five years if the disease is caught when it is very localized. Colon cancer, second only to lung cancer as a cause of death and equally prevalent among men and women, is totally preventable if precancerous polyps, growths that have long been considered the main precursors for colon cancer, are removed in time.
Colonography is a new way of screening that's less invasive than the dreaded colonoscopy. This virtual colonoscopy uses a CT scan to examine the colon. The sticky wicket: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in March showed depressed or flat lesions were five times more likely to be cancerous than polyps. While the CT scan would clearly be more comfortable, a traditional colonoscopy better detects these flat or depressed lesions. Also be picky when it comes to the experience behind the scope. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found certain doctors were ten times better at finding precancerous polyps — and the flat lesions are even harder to detect.
Always check with your doctor to see what your own medical history dictates, but most women ages 21-30 should have a Pap test every year and then every three years if they've had negative results for three years in a row, and a mammogram every two years after age 40. Both genders should have colonoscopies every ten years after age 50. Plan annual physicals and regular skin checks, too.
Despite the efforts of award-winning writer Helen Olsson to feed her three children wholesome food, the youngest still won't eat kale.
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