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Cancer Screenings

Cancer screenings are performed to check your body for cancer before you show symptoms.

Procedure

• Breast Cancer: A mammogram is an x-ray of the best breast, and is the best way to catch breast cancer early. During a mammogram, you will stand in front of an x-ray machine. Your breasts will be flattened between two plates in order to get a high-quality picture, which may cause some discomfort, but no pain. The discomfort will only last a few seconds, and the whole procedure lasts about 20 minutes.
• Cervical Cancer: A Pap test looks for precancers, or cell changes on the cervix that could become cervical cancer if not treated appropriately. During the test, your doctor will use a speculum to widen your vagina. This helps the doctor to examine the vagina and the cervix and to collect a few cells and mucus from the cervix. The cells are sent to a laboratory. An HPV test can also be performed in this way, in which the virus human papillomavirus is tested for. HPV can cause cell changes that could lead to cervical cancer.
• Colon Cancer: Colorectal, or colon, cancer often develops from polyps, or abnormal growths in the colon or rectum. Screenings can find these polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. There are several tests used to screen for colon cancer, including stool tests and colonoscopies.

Benefits

Regular screening tests may find breast, cervical, and colon cancers early, when treatments are likely to work best. Depending on your medical and family history and other risk factors, additional screenings may be recommended by your doctor.

FAQs

While cancer screenings treat cancer or any associated symptoms, screenings can catch cancer in its early stages, when it’s easiest to treat and keep from spreading.

While some cancer screenings may cause some discomfort, they are not painful. For example, some women feel discomfort during mammograms as the breasts are compressed between two plates in order for the procedure to be done.