April 17, 2014

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Early Detection

If you can't prevent cancer, the next best thing you can do to protect your health is to detect it early. Recognizing symptoms, getting regular check-ups, and performing self-exams are just a few ways you can do this. Putnam Hospital Center recommends the following tests and can provide a full range of state-of-the-art cancer diagnostic services.

Breast Cancer
  • Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
  • Clinical breast exam (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, and should take place once every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
  • Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s.
Cervical Cancer

All women should begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after they begin having vaginal intercourse, but no later than when they are 21 years old. Screening should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid-based Pap test. Beginning at age 30, women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2-3 years.

Endometrial (Uterine) Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that at the time of menopause, all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer and strongly encouraged to report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors. For women with or at high risk for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), annual screening should be offered for endometrial cancer with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35.

Prostate Cancer

Both the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) should begin at age 50 for men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy. Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a strong family of one or more first-degree relatives [father, brother] diagnosed before age 65) should begin testing at age 45. Men at even higher risk, due to multiple first-degree relatives affected at an early age, could begin testing at age 40.

Colon and Rectal Cancer

Beginning at age 50, both men and women should follow one of these five testing schedules:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT)* or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Yearly FOBT* or FIT, plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years**
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years

*For FOBT, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. 

**The combination of yearly FOBT or FIT flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years is preferred over either of these options alone.

All positive tests should be followed up with colonoscopy.

Cancer Screenings

Screenings for skin, prostate, breast and cervical cancer are held annually at PHC. There is no charge for the programs.

Smoking Cessation Assistance

Smoking damages nearly every organ in the human body, is linked to at least 10 different cancers, and accounts for some 30% of all cancer deaths. And it costs billions of dollars each year. Yet one in four Americans still lights up. If you or someone you love uses tobacco, we can get you the help you need to quit.

Genetics Counseling Service

A percentage of certain cancers, including colorectal, breast, ovarian and melanoma, have a hereditary component that can be passed from one generation to the next. Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%. If you have a family history of cancer on either your mother's or father's side and/or a personal history and want to learn more, please contact the Genetics Counseling Service at (845) 279-5711 Ext. 2765.


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