Although advanced treatments and early detection have resulted in a 13% drop in U.S. deaths related to cancer*, cancer still ranks among the leading causes of death in America.
There are things you can do to help prevent or detect cancer before it reaches advanced stages. Brehm Medical Center has prepared a list of warning signs and symptoms and recommendations to catch cancer earlier or prevent its occurrence.
Know the Warning Signs of Cancer
- Lump or thickening in the breast or any other part of the body
- Change in wart or mole
- Indigestion or trouble swallowing
- Change in bowel or bladder habits
- Unusual bleeding or discharge
- Nagging, persistent cough or hoarseness
- Unexplained changes in weight
- Abnormal Moleshave one or more of the following danger signs:
- Asymmetry – if you could fold the mole in half, both side don’t match
- Irregular borders – edges not smooth or distinct
- Color variation
- Diameter larger than a pencil eraser
- Crusting or oozing
- Change in color or size
- A new mole on a person over 40 years old
- Enlarging or elevating
Prevent and Detect
- Wear Sunscreen(at least SPF 30) whenever you’re outside. Avoid sunburns, especially if you have red or blond hair, blue or green eyes, fair skin and freckles. Sunscreen should protect against UVA and UVB rays.
- Breast self-exams should be done monthly along with full skin exam
- Testicular self-exams should be done monthly from age 15 – 40 along with full skin exam.
- Skin cancer exams. Examine your skin regularly to be sure you have no abnormal moles or other lesions. We do a lot of dermatology work and can take care of 90% of your skin problems. For the other 10% we will refer you to an appropriate dermatologist.
Know Your Family History
If a member or members of your family have a history of melanoma or other cancers, discuss this with your doctor who can recommend appropriate cancer screenings based on your sex, age, and family history cancer risks.
Colon and Rectal Cancer
Approximately 30% of people over 50 have colon polyps and 30% of these may silently progress to colon cancer. Removing these polyps prevents cancer. Colon cancer has a high death rate if not caught in time. It is extremely preventable with regular screening tests.
After age 45, you should complete the mail-in stool test. A small specimen of stool is smeared on a card and sent to a lab for microscopic testing of blood in the stool. Some patients do not return their stool cards. This is a very important test. Please do it.
You should have a colon evaluation by a scope beginning at age 50. (Begin at age 40 if someone in your family has had colon cancer.) If you have colon polyps or colon cancer, your family should be notified and screened. They are at increased risk.