Caribbean Life, June 28–July 4, 2019 37
Routine screenings are one of the most effective ways to combat cancer.
Cancer does not discriminate based on race,
gender, or age, and many people have been or
know someone who has been diagnosed with
this potentially deadly disease.
Cancer is often unpredictable, but many cancers
can be found in the early stages before they have had
the chance to metastasize. In many instances, the
earlier cancer is detected, the more treatable it is,
according to the American Cancer Society.
People often wonder what they can do to protect
themselves against cancer. Routine screenings are
one of the most effective ways to combat cancer:
What is a cancer screening?
The National Cancer Institute says cancer screenings
check for cancer in people who have no symptoms.
Common cancer screenings include colonoscopies,
sigmoidoscopies, mammograms, Pap tests,
visual skin examinations, and any preventative visual
or tactile examinations of parts of the body for
lumps and abnormalities.
Other screening tests can include specifi c blood
tests, such as Prostate-Specifi c Antigen for prostate
cancer, CA-125 for ovarian cancer, and the
alpha-fetoprotein blood test used in conjunction
with an ultrasound to detect liver cancer.
Cancer screenings are not always part of annual
physicals. However, doctors may suggest screenings
based on patients’ family histories or other risk factors.
In addition, some doctors may recommend cancer
screenings as their patients age, as age is one of
the biggest risk factors for many cancers.
How people can be health
There are more than 200 types of cancer that
can cause many different symptoms, advises Cancer
Research UK. It is not possible to know them all,
but generally people are good at recognizing when
they’re feeling normal and when they’re exhibiting
symptoms that suggest something is awry. Knowing
oneself and knowing when something seems
strange can help men and women advocate for their
Individuals should feel comfortable addressing
their concerns with a physician and asking if
screening methods or other tests may be applicable
in certain situations.
Other cancer tests
Because screening and testing comes with certain
risks and the possibility for false positives or
negatives, not to mention sometimes exorbitant
costs, patients and doctors often discuss the pros
and cons of cancer screenings before going forward
with the tests. Imaging procedures may be used in
conjunction with lab tests to rule out certain cancers.
Such procedures include:
CT scan: an X-ray image of internal organs.
Nuclear scan (radionuclide scan): a specialized
radioactive scan to create pictures of bones and
Ultrasound: use of radio waves to map out internal
PET scan: use of a tracer injection to map how
tissues are working, among other tests.
Doctors may also recommend biopsies, which remove
a small portion of tissue to test for cancer.
Men and women curious about cancer screenings
should consult with their doctors and ask pertinent
questions about potential side effects, preparing
for screenings and interpreting the results. Taking
charge of one’s health can help catch cancer in its
Skin cancer is one of
the most pervasive
types of cancer, and
just about everyone is
at risk of getting it. The
American Cancer Society
says that, over the past 30
years, more people have
had skin cancer than all
other cancers combined.
Melanoma, while not the most common form of
skin cancer, is the deadliest form of the disease.
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, if melanoma
is recognized and treated early, it is almost
always curable. One way to detect melanoma
early is to be aware of moles and new growths on
Brown spots, growths, and moles on the body
are often harmless, but they may be indicative
of skin cancer. Experts say that anyone who has
more than 100 moles is at greater risk for melanoma
than others. Knowing one’s skin and being
aware of any changes is key to detecting skin cancer
much more promptly.
Understanding the ABCDEs of detecting melanoma
and the “Ugly Duckling” sign are important
strategies for detecting skin cancer. Here’s what
you should know:
Ugly Duckling sign
This concept was introduced in 1998 and relates
to the observation that nevi, or moles, on the
body tend to look like one another — much like
all the ducklings in a fl ock will resemble one another.
However, a mole that is unlike the other,
or an “ugly duckling,” may indicate the presence
of melanoma. Nevi may present in different patterns,
which are deemed “normal” to a particular
person. An outlier, or a mole that doesn’t fi t the
pattern, could raise a red fl ag. The outlier may
be darker than surrounding moles or it may be
The Ugly Duckling sign is often used with another
diagnostic tool called ABCDE. This is an
acronym for the detection steps: Asymmetry,
Border, Color, Diameter, and Evolving.
Asymmetry: If an imaginary line is drawn
through the middle of the mole and the two halves
of the mole do not match up, this could be a warning
sign. Normal spots tend to be symmetrical.
Border: The borders of early melanoma tend
to be jagged or notched, while regular moles have
Color: A mole with multiple colors might be
Diameter: Melanomas tend to be larger than
the diameter of a pencil eraser. Large spots should
Evolving: If a mole starts to change all of a
sudden by growing or changing color, or even if it
simply feels different, see a doctor.
“When in doubt, check it out” can be applied to
detecting skin cancer. It is better to be safe than
sorry, especially when considering that early detection
can save lives in the event of melanoma.
Screening methods that
can detect cancer early