Michigan Association of Health Plans

Talk with your primary care provider about the cancer screenings you should schedule

This article appeared in McLaren’s blog. Read more here

The beginning of the year is always a good time to make sure you have your medical appointments scheduled, including cancer screenings. Early detection is a powerful tool in the fight against cancer. Here are some cancer screenings you can schedule today:

Screening Mammograms for Breast Cancer

All women should make sure they know their breasts. Women 40 and over should be receiving routine breast mammograms. If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, especially a first-degree relative who has had the disease, you should have your first mammogram ten years prior to the age that relative was diagnosed.

You can schedule your annual screening mammogram online today at the McLaren Flint Imaging Center or at McLaren Fenton by visiting karmanos.org/flintfenton-3Dmamm. Referrals are not required to make an appointment.

Lung Cancer Screening

If you know that you have been exposed to harmful chemicals and gases (e.g., radon), are a current smoker, or you have a smoking history, speak to your primary care provider about getting screened for lung cancer. Even if you quit smoking, you can still be at risk of developing this disease.

Recommended guidelines for lung cancer screenings highlight those who are:

  • 55 – 77 years old.
  • A current or former smoker with at least a 30 pack-year smoking history (one pack a day for 30 years or two packs a day for 15 years, etc) and
  • A current smoker or those who have quit within the last 15 years.
  • Asymptomatic (having a cough that does not go away, hoarseness, shortness of breath, etc.)
  • Lung cancer screenings can be done in as little as 15 minutes. In Genesee County, patients can schedule their lung cancer screening at the McLaren Flint Imaging Center or the imaging center at McLaren Fenton. Physician orders are required to make an appointment. For more information and for resources to quit smoking, visit karmanos.org/flintlung-screening or call 1 (844) LUNG SCREEN (1-844-586-4727).

Colorectal Cancer Screening

When was the last time you had a colonoscopy? Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths across the country, among men and women. There are usually no symptoms during the early stages of the disease, so it is important to receive regular testing. Generally, men and women who are considered at average risk for colon cancer should begin screenings at age 45. If you are considered high risk, you may be encouraged to begin screening at an earlier age.

Men and women who are considered high risk for colon cancers are encouraged to speak with their physician about receiving a colonoscopy. Those who are at a high risk usually:

  • Are African American. African Americans are recommended to begin screening at an earlier age.
  • Have had colorectal cancer before.
  • Have a history of ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer.
  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer or other genetic factors (e.g. Lynch syndrome, or familial polyposis).
  • Have a personal history of colorectal polyps.
  • Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), also known as Crohn’s disease or Colitis.
  • Are obese and/or are physically inactive.
  • Are regular tobacco or alcohol users.
  • Have a diet that is high fat or high in red or processed meat and low in fiber, calcium, fruit and vegetables.
  • Have Type 2 diabetes.

If you fall between these guidelines and the results of your first screening are normal, physicians recommend receiving a colonoscopy every 10 years.

For more information about colonoscopies and for a list of our gastroenterology specialists, visit karmanos.org/flint-colonscreening.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Cervical cancer was once one of the most common causes of cancer deaths among women, according to the American Cancer Society. This is due to the ability to catch the disease in earlier stages than in the past. Women are encouraged to receive routine gynecologic evaluations, which include Pap tests, human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, or both. Cervical cancer screenings are recommended beginning at age 21.

The American Cancer Society recommends the following:

  • Women ages 21-29 receive a Pap test every three years
  • Women ages 30-65 receive a Pap test and an HPV test every five years
  • Women over 65 years old who have not had abnormal test results do not need to be screened
  • Women who have had a hysterectomy do not need to be screened

Speak to your physician to decide which test is right for you. These tests are usually done during your routine appointment with your gynecologist or primary care provider. For more information on HPV and Pap tests, visit karmanos.org/flint-cervical.

DRE or PSA Tests for Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is the most common diagnosed cancer among men. Men who are nearing 50 years of age or older should speak with their primary care provider to understand if they should receive a digital rectal exam (DRE) or prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test routinely. Each man’s prostate health varies – some men may have to receive screenings at an earlier age, especially if they are considered high risk. This could be true if they:

  • Have a family history of prostate cancer, including a father, son or brother who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 65. A man’s risk increases when he has more than one close family member who has been diagnosed.
  • Are African American. African American men have a higher death rate due to prostate cancer than American men with European descent.

Some cancer screenings require physician orders or referrals. Should you need a new primary care provider, visit mclaren.org/flintappointments to view a list of providers who are accepting new patients.

Cancer screening guidelines change frequently. Make sure to speak with your primary care provider about the types of cancer screenings you may need, and when to receive them.

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