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The Importance of Cancer Screening

Since 2017, tens of thousands of Americans have pledged to get the recommended cancer screenings during the first week of December, dubbed Cancer Screen Week. Cancer Screen Week is a public health campaign to raise awareness about the benefits of early cancer detection and prevention. Cancer is expected to kill over 600,000 people in 2023 alone. Many of those lives could be saved if cancer was detected early and treated promptly. Unfortunately, few Americans use these potentially life-saving screening tools. Despite the long history of detection, less than half of cervical cancer diagnoses occur at the local stage. This disparity has the potential to reduce the five-year survival rate from 92% to 17%. The failure to appropriately screen for cancer could lead to preventable injuries including the spread of cancer. If your cancer was not timely diagnosed, call our medical malpractice lawyers to see if you have a meritorious case.

Routine cancer screenings are essential at all stages of adulthood, but the risk of developing cancer rises dramatically with age. Approximately 80% of cancer patients in the United States are 55 or older, with 57% being 65 or older.

Cancer screenings can aid in the early detection of cancer when treatment is more likely to be successful. Most people do not notice signs or symptoms of cancer until it has progressed to an advanced stage when it can be more difficult to treat. As a result, routine cancer screenings are not only important but can also save lives.

As the evidence demonstrates the importance of cancer screening, it is critical that everyone understands when to be screened and how to screen for early signs of cancer. Some families have a strong cancer history, which means that multiple relatives have been diagnosed with the same type of cancer. Doctors will most likely advise these people to undergo regular cancer screenings. Those without a strong family history of cancer, on the other hand, should be screened as well. Breast cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, and skin cancer should all be screened regularly. The risk factors that determine when screening should take place, such as age, differ for each available screening.

There are various types of cancer screenings for various cancers. A dermatologist or health care provider can perform a visual full-body check to detect skin cancer. The "gold standard" for colorectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy, in which a tube is inserted into the rectum and a tiny video camera allows the doctor to view the colon. You can also do at-home tests (if polyps or growths are found, you will still need a colonoscopy). Cervical cancer is typically screened with a Pap and/or human papillomavirus (HPV) test, whereas breast and lung cancers are typically screened with X-rays. Since there are many different types of cancer, you should speak to our medical malpractice lawyers to see if you received appropriate care.

It is also worth noting that several companies are developing blood-based tests that have yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or reimbursed by Medicare.

Most private insurance, Medicaid, and Medicare are required by the Affordable Care Act to cover cancer screenings that receive an A or B grade from the US Preventive Services Task Force. Currently, this includes breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer screening, as well as lung cancer screening for those at high risk. If you are uninsured, programs such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provide free or low-cost screenings, and there are additional resources for free or low-cost screenings.

The screenings you require and the frequency with which you should be screened are determined by a number of factors, including your age, the body parts such as breasts, testicles, and/or prostate, your personal and family health history, and lifestyle habits such as smoking. Adults aged 50 and up who are at average risk should have the following screening tests:

  • Breast cancer screening Men and women can both be diagnosed with breast cancer. Because men have a much lower prevalence of the disease, routine screening is only recommended for women. Self-exams and mammograms can be used to screen for breast cancer. Women of any age can begin self-exams, but mammograms are recommended for women 45 and older. Mammograms are recommended every year between the ages of 45 and 54. Mammograms can be scheduled every other year after the age of 55. Mammograms aid in the detection of breast abnormalities and increase the likelihood of detecting cancer before it spreads elsewhere.
  • Cervical cancer screening is available until the age of 65. Cervical cancer is one of the most avoidable types of cancer. It is caused by the Human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection. Fortunately, there is an HPV vaccine as well as simple screening options. The Pap test is a common cervical cancer screening method that requires women aged 21 and older to be screened every three years. The cervical screening test is gradually replacing the Pap test as standard practice. According to this screening method, women aged 25 and up should be screened every five years. While this test is becoming more common than the Pap test, it is important to speak with your doctor about your options. It is also important to note that even women who have received the HPV vaccine should have regular screenings.
  • Screening for colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer screening is advised for both men and women starting at the age of 45. Stool-based tests and visual/structural exams of the colon and rectum are among the screening options. Stool-based exams are recommended more frequently, from once a year to once every three years. Visual/structural exams should be performed every 5 to 10 years, depending on the test. It is best to consult a doctor about which type of test is best for each individual.
  • Screening for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screening is available, but there is no agreement on whether it is beneficial. Men over the age of 50 should consult with their doctor about whether prostate cancer screening is a good idea.
  • Oral cancer screening. Should be performed every six months or annually during your dental cleaning and oral health check-up examination with your dentist.
  • Testicular examinations. Should be performed during your annual physical.
  • Skin examinations. Though there are no recommended skin cancer screening tests, it is critical that everyone performs regular visual self-examinations. Observing the pattern of moles, freckles, and other marks can aid in the detection of any changes that could be related to cancer. Regular skin exams with healthcare professionals are important in detecting skin cancer in people who are at risk, including those with compromised immunity.
  • Lung cancer. Annual lung cancer screening is recommended for both men and women between the ages of 55 and 74 if...
    • They are in reasonably good health.
    • Currently smoke or have quit smoking in the last 15 years.
    • Have a smoking history of at least 30 pack-years.
    • If they currently smoke, they received smoking cessation counseling.
  • Hepatitis B vaccine until the age of 59 if not already immunized* Hepatitis C testing at least once between the ages of 18 and 79*
  • *Hepatitis B and C have been linked to liver cancer.

Knowing the importance of cancer screening and the various types of screening tests available is a great place to start when participating in Cancer Screen Week. Sharing this information with friends and family can inspire others to take part in this nationally recognized week and get screened. Our medical malpractice lawyers offer free consultations, so please feel free to contact us at any time regarding a potential case. While not every cancer case is malpractice, the failure to timely diagnose and treat certain cancers, could mean you should be entitled to fair compensation for your injuries.

At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, we represent injured clients and their families throughout Upstate New York, including Syracuse, Rochester, Albany, Buffalo, Elmira, Binghamton, Auburn, Ithaca, Oswego, Norwich, Herkimer, Delhi, Cooperstown, Cortland, Lowville, Oneida, Watertown, Utica, Canandaigua, Wampsville, Lyons, and surrounding areas. Please call us at 833-200-2000 or contact us via our online form to discuss your case.

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