How can cancer be detected early?

Cancer may be detected earlier in a person who chooses to have routine cancer-related check-ups. During these exams cancer may be detected before any symptoms develop, producing a better survival rate. For people 20 years or older, a cancer-related health exam should include health counseling and, depending on the age and gender, exams for cancer of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes and ovaries.

Why is it important for cancer to be detected early?

Most cancers are easier to treat and cure if they are found early. Although there are many different types of cancers, most begin when abnormal cells grow out of control. The more time passed without the cancer noticed usually means larger cancer growth in the body.

What tests and screenings can be used to detect cancer?

There is no one test that may detect any type of cancer. For most cancers, there are specific tests that may be done to detect abnormalities.

Breast Cancer

  • Yearly mammograms are recommended beginning at age 40 and continuing annually for as long as you are in good health.
  • For women in their 20s and 30s a clinical breast exam (CBE) about every 3 years is recommended and annually for women 40 and over.
  • Know how your breast feel and look on a normal basis so any changes may be detected and reported to your health care provider. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option beginning for women in their 20s.

Colorectal Cancer and Polyps

Once age 50, both men and women should follow one of the following testing schedules:

To detect polyps & cancer:

  • Either a colonoscopy every 10 years or a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Either a double-contrast barium enema or a CT colonography (virtual colonography) every 5 years

To detect primarily cancer:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test or stool DNA test

Prostate Cancer

Three tests to help detect prostate cancer in males are transrectal ultrasound (TRUS), digital rectal exam (DRE) and prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test. North Cypress Medical Center offers a FREE Prostate Screening, including a digital rectal exam and PSA blood test, each September in honor of Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Begin talking to your doctor at age 50 about the pros and cons of testing to decide if testing is the right choice for you. If you are African American or have a father/brother who had prostate cancer before age 65, you should talk to your doctor about beginning testing at age 45.

Lung Cancer

In order to diagnose lung cancer, your doctor may recommend:

  • Imaging Tests: An X-ray image of your lungs may reveal an abnormal mass or nodule. A CT scan can reveal small lesions in your lungs that might not be detected on an X-ray.
  • Sputum Cytology: If you have a cough that is producing sputum, the presence of lung cancer cells may be revealed by looking at the sputum under the microscope.
  • Tissue Samples (biopsy): A sample of abnormal cells may be removed during a biopsy in order to diagnose lung cancer.

Gynecological Cancers

    Cervical Cancer

    • Three years after becoming sexually active, but before 21 years of age, all women should begin annual cervical cancer screenings with regular Pap test or every 2 years with the newer liquid-based Pap test.
    • Once age 30, women who have had 3 consecutive normal Pap test results may get screened every 2-3 years. Women over 30 may also get screened every 3 years with either the conventional or liquid-based pap test, plus the human papilloma virus (HPV) test.
    • Women 70 years or older with 3 consecutive normal Pap tests and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having Pap tests.
    • Women who undergo a total hysterectomy may choose to stop having Pap tests, unless the surgery was done as cervical cancer or pre-cancer treatment.

    Uterine/Endometrial Cancer

    • There is no approved screening for this type of cancer, but immediately report to your doctor if you experience abnormal bleeding.
    • For females over the age of 21 years, a regular pap smear to examine cervical cells is necessary.
    • If necessary, a biopsy can be used to remove tissue in order to check for abnormal cells. An endometrial biopsy is used to remove a small amount of endometrium to test for cancer.

    Ovarian Cancer

    • Risk factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer include family history of ovarian cancer, hormone replacement therapy, fertility drugs, talc and obesity.
    • Protective factors that may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer include oral contraceptives, pregnancy and breastfeeding, bilateral tubal ligation or hysterectomy and prophylactic oophorectomy.
    • Tests that may be used to detect Ovarian Cancer include blood tests, ultrasound, CT scan or a biopsy.

Skin Cancer

Keeping an eye on your skin, especially moles, is the best way to detect skin cancer early. The ABCDE rule can help you remember what to look for. Talk to your doctor if you notice any of these signs:

A-Asymmetry: When divided in half, mole does not look the same on both sides.

B-Border: A mole with blurry or jagged edges.

C-Color: Changes in the color of a mole include darkening, spread or loss of color, or the appearance of multiple colors such as blue, red, white, pink, purple or gray.

D-Diameter: A mole larger than ¼ inch in diameter (about the size of a pencil eraser).

E-Elevation: A mole that is raised above the skin and has an uneven surface.

How can I reduce my risk of developing cancer?

The following preventive measures may reduce your risk for developing cancer:

Smoking Cessation

Quitting smoking is one of the best ways to improve your general health. Becoming smoke-free will reduce your risk of developing cancer, allow you to breathe easier and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

Sun Protection

Protecting yourself from the sun’s ultraviolet rays will greatly reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. You may protect your skin from direct sunlight by wearing protective clothing, applying sunscreen or seeking shade, and avoiding sunlamps and tanning booths.

Diet & Exercise

Improving the overall way you eat, exercise and live your life can help you feel better and may lower your chances in developing health problems. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and exercising at least 30 minutes daily will help to improve your daily lifestyle.

What are symptoms of cancer?

There are no specific symptoms leading directly to cancer. Symptoms, such as lumps or pain, will vary depending on how the cancer develops. In some cases no signs of cancer will ever be felt or seen by the patient. Maintaining follow-up visits with your doctor is vital in assessing and discussing your health.

Does North Cypress offer services to help detect breast cancer?

One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection is the best protection. The key to good breast health is to be proactive. Unless otherwise directed by a physician, women should have a baseline mammogram at age 35, and annual mammograms starting at the age of 40.

The Women's Breast Center at North Cypress Medical Center combines state-of-the-art diagnostic, screening and treatment equipment with the area's most experienced radiologists to offer one of the most advanced Breast Centers in Houston. From evaluation, to treatment, to recovery, the physicians and healthcare staff at North Cypress Breast Center are committed to individualized care, taking the time to explain procedures and address all concerns. Our commitment to quality care and comfort include private dressing rooms and a relaxing waiting area.

The North Cypress Women's Center is located in Professional Building I at 21216 Northwest Freeway in Suite 220. For more information, please call (832) 912-3600. To schedule an appointment, call (832) 912-3724.

Does North Cypress offer services to help detect prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America. It is estimated that there are more than 2 million American men currently living with prostate cancer. In honor of the Prostate Cancer Awareness Month of September, North Cypress Medical Center offers FREE Prostate Screenings, including PSA testing and a physical examination. For more information, please call 832-912-3734.