Prevention is always better than the cure and to discuss this further, HEALTH meets with Eastern Biotech and Life Sciences Product Manager Ranjini Mohan who highlights the vital role of screening tests, predictive genetic tests, and monitoring tests in preventing the disease and saving lives.
Patients with a personal history of either Breast and Colon Cancer should begin periodic screening at the recommended age upon discussing with your physician to detect any problem before it causes symptoms. For individuals with a family history of any type of cancer, a thorough evaluation of the family’s medical history will guide the need and time to offer genetic testing so it will impact the clinical care.
BREAST CANCER SCREENING IS ADVISED FOR WOMEN WITH:
An average to high risk due to a personal history, along with a clinical breast exam and screening with mammogram should start at age 30. The use of MRI should be discussed with your physician. An average to high risk due to family history of any genetic mutation, a diagnostic genetic testing 10 years before the youngest diagnosis in the family is recommended.
COLON CANCER SCREENING IS ADVISED FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH:
An average risk should get a periodic screening test beginning age 50. An increased risk of colorectal cancer due to positive screening test, should discuss with his physician about clinically relevant procedures. An increased risk of colorectal cancer due to known family history, may require screenings from an earlier age along with a genetic testing before age 50 to identify pre-disposition to be able to manage treatment.
HOW DIAGNOSTIC SCREENINGS CAN HELP PREVENT AND STAVE OFF DISEASE?
Breast cancers found during screening tests are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the prognosis of a woman with this disease. Today, colorectal polyps are more often found during regular screenings and removed before they can develop into cancer. It can take as many as 10 to 15 years for a polyp to develop into colorectal cancer. When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 90 percent. But only about 4 out of 10 colorectal cancers are found at this early stage. When cancer has spread outside the colon or rectum, survival rates are lower.
WHAT COLON CANCER SCREENING ENTAILS
Having polyps found and removed can help some people from getting colorectal cancer. Prevention (and not just finding it early) should be a major reason for getting tested. Below are some tests that have the best chance of finding polyps and/or cancer:
TESTS TO FIND SCREENING POLYPS AND CANCER
Flexible sigmoidoscopy* Colonoscopy Double-contrast barium enema* CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)* (*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive)
TO MAINLY FIND CANCER
Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)* Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)* Stool DNA test* Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive
About 5 to 10 percent of people who develop colorectal cancer have inherited gene defects (mutations), 19 genes with known association that can cause family cancer syndromes
BREAST CANCER SCREENINGS SELF AND/OR CLINICAL BREAST EXAM
All women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and notice symptoms such as lumps, pain, or changes in size that may be of concern.
Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms.
MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)
The American Cancer Society believes the use of mammograms and MRI together will offer women with high risk the best chance to reduce their risk of breast cancer.
About 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary, meaning they result directly from gene defects (mutations) passed on from a parent. There are around 18 genes with known association to breast cancer