The root cause of cancer is unknown. However, some of the predisposing factors why normal cells become cancerous or mutated include lifestyle habits, diet, weight management, genetics, environmental factors, and age.
The best cancer prevention is early screening as it’ll detect primordial signs of tumor development. In this way, early detection and treatment will be provided before the overgrowth and spread of cancer cells from one organ to other vital organs of the body.
Read this complete guide to cancer screening to increase your awareness and understanding of the various diagnostic procedures used to rule out cancer at any age. Also, you’ll learn about the most common types of cancer occurring across multiple age groups.
Diagnostic Procedures To Help Detect Cancer
To determine the possible risk factors of cancer, an oncologist will ask questions to obtain the patient’s family and medical history. Also, doctors perform a thorough physical assessment, such as inspection and palpation of the breasts, to check presenting signs and symptoms.
To confirm a cancer diagnosis, further assessment is required via laboratory and imaging studies. These steps are applicable to any suspected cancer patient at any age.
Here are the following common diagnostic procedures for cancer screening:
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
MRI scanners use a magnetic field and radiofrequency signals to produce cross-sectional images of the organs in the body. However, not all MRI scanners are the same as they come in different features and capabilities.
For instance, the Ezra scan is an MRI-based, full-body cancer screening that can screen up to 13 organs in one hour, providing accurate, fast, and affordable diagnostic procedures for suspected cancer patients.
Here are good-to-know things about MRI for cancer screening:
- What Cancer Can An MRI Detect: The doctor orders an MRI with contrast dye to see spinal cord and brain tumors. MRI can be used to look for metastasized (spread) cancer cells from where they originated to another body part or vital organ. It can detect uterine cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer, which are very hard or invisible to detect on a Computed Tomography (CT) scan.
- When To Undergo MRI: Generally, consider a full-body MRI scan once a year as a part of cancer screening to monitor any changes in your health.
- Suitable Age: Both children and adults can undergo MRI scans.
- Any Risks Involved: MRI has no side effects or risks involved, except for those with metal implants. The procedure is painless and fast without lasting effects, too. The MRI scanner doesn’t come in contact with the patient during the scan.
- Computed Tomography (CT Scan)
CT scans show a tumor’s location, size, and shape, including the blood vessels feeding the tumor. Doctors compare CT scan results over time to determine the tumor’s response to treatment and find out if cancer cells have come back after treatment.
With a CT scan, images of almost the entire body can be produced–from the head and neck to the abdomen and thighs–in just a few seconds. This imaging test is beneficial for staging cancer. CT scans are effective for surveying the body to search where cancer has spread or metastasized, like the bone, lungs, or liver.
Since CT scan uses radiation, unnecessary scanning for infants and children isn’t recommended. As they still have developing nervous systems, CT scans can increase their risk of cancer.
This imaging study helps detect breast cancer. A mammogram produces an X-ray to look for early signs of tumors in the breast. A breast tumor may take up to three years before it becomes palpable. Such a small tumor can be detected early in a regular mammogram.
Other tests suggest that cancer is present. However, only a biopsy can confirm a diagnosis. A doctor performing a biopsy removes a small tissue from the tumor or organ, and then examines the sample under a microscope.
A good example of a biopsy procedure is Pap smear as it collects cells from the cervical and vaginal surface using a small wooden stick, a brush, or cotton to scrape cells gently.
Common Types Of Cancer In Different Age Groups
Children and adults can be at risk of cancer. It’s important to know the common types of cancer that occur in different age groups to determine a person’s risk and carry out early screening to prevent cancer or its progression.
The common types of cancer in different age groups include the following:
- Infants: Neuroblastoma is the most common type of cancer among babies, a rare disease in which a solid lump or tumor is formed by neuroblasts or special nerve cells.
- Children And Adolescents: Leukemia or cancer of the bone marrow or blood cells is the most common cancer type among children and teenagers (ages 0 to 19) in the United States. Also, lymphomas or cancers of the lymph nodes and cancers of the spine are common among this age group.
- Adult Women: Breast cancer is considered the most common type of cancer in adult women in the United States. Because of certain risk factors (family history of breast cancer, over 50 years old, physical inactivity), some women tend to have a higher chance of developing breast cancer than others. Women who are 45 to 54 years old should undergo mammograms annually.
- Adult Men: The most common type of cancer in adult men in the United States is prostate cancer, except skin cancer. The risk factors of prostate cancer include a family history of prostate cancer and race (African-American). General guidelines recommend Prostate-specific Antigen test (PSA) screening starting at age 55.
- Elderly: The most common types of cancers in seniors include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, and colorectal cancer. Adults age 50 to 75 years old should be screened (colonoscopy) for colorectal cancer.
You’ve learned the importance of cancer screening in detecting and treating this medical condition. By being aware of the most common cancer types in various age groups, you can prevent cancer through early screening, such as MRI scans and mammography.
Annual cancer screening is recommended to detect any signs of tumor growth. Hence, don’t underestimate the importance of early cancer screening. Protect yourself from cancer and your family. Talk to your doctor about the recommended cancer screening tests for you.