Screenings look for cancer before a person has symptoms.
Screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage, before symptoms appear. When abnormal tissue or cancer is found early, it may be easier to treat or cure. By the time symptoms appear, the cancer may have grown and spread. This can make the cancer harder to treat or cure.
It is important to remember that when your doctor suggests a screening test, it does not always mean he or she thinks you have cancer. Screening tests are done when you have no cancer symptoms.
Types of screenings
Physical exam and history. An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Laboratory tests. Medical procedures that test samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body.
Imaging procedures. Procedures that make pictures of areas inside the body.
Genetic tests. Tests that look for certain gene mutations (changes) that are linked to some types of cancer.
All women should be familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a healthcare provider right away.
Some women—because of their family history, a genetic tendency or certain other factors—should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.) Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
- Women ages 40-44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45-54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can switch to mammograms every two years or continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is healthy and expected to live 10 more years or longer.
No physician referral needed, call (864) 522-9729 to schedule your mammogram today!
The American Cancer Society recommends that women follow these guidelines to help find cervical cancer early.
- All women should begin cervical cancer testing (screening) at age 21.
- Women aged 21 to 29, should have a Pap test every three years. HPV testing should not be used for screening in this age group (it may be used as a part of follow-up for an abnormal Pap test).
- Beginning at age 30, the preferred way to screen is with a Pap test combined with an HPV test every 5 years. This is called co-testing and should continue until age 65.
- Another option for women 30 to 65 is to get tested every three years with just the Pap test.
- Women who are at high risk of cervical cancer because of a suppressed immune system may need to be screened more often. These women should follow the recommendations of their healthcare team.
- Women over 65 years of age who have had regular screening in the previous 10 years should stop cervical cancer screening as long as they haven’t had any serious pre-cancers in the last 20 years.
The American Cancer Society guidelines for early detection of cervical cancer do not apply to women who have been diagnosed with cervical cancer, cervical pre-cancer, or HIV infection. These women should have follow-up testing and cervical cancer screening as recommended by their healthcare team.
Talk to your primary care provider about scheduling your cervical screening. Learn more about cervical and other gynecologic cancers.
If you are at average risk for colorectal cancer, start having regular screenings at 45 (Note: New recommendation as of May 2018). If you are at greater risk, you may need to begin regular screenings at an earlier age. The best time to get screened is before any symptoms appear.
People at increased risk because of a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps or because they have inflammatory bowel disease or certain inherited conditions may be advised to start screening before age 45 and/or have more frequent screening.
Screening tests for colorectal cancer:
- High-sensitivity fecal occult blood test. Both polyps and colorectal cancers can bleed. This test checks for tiny amounts of blood in feces (stool) that cannot be seen visually.
- Stool DNA test. The only stool DNA test approved by the FDA to date, Cologuard®, is a multitarget test that detects tiny amounts of blood in stool as well as DNA biomarkers that have been found in colorectal cancer and precancerous advanced adenomas.
- Sigmoidoscopy. With this test, the rectum and sigmoid colon are examined using a sigmoidoscope, a flexible lighted tube with a lens for viewing and a tool for removing tissue.
- Standard colonoscopy. In this test, the rectum and entire colon are examined using a colonoscope, a flexible lighted tube with a lens for viewing and a tool for removing tissue.
- Virtual colonoscopy. This screening method uses special X-ray equipment (a CT scanner) to produce a series of pictures of the colon and the rectum from outside the body. A computer then assembles these pictures into detailed images that can show polyps and other abnormalities. Virtual colonoscopy is less invasive than standard colonoscopy and does not require sedation.
Note: Any abnormal result of these tests should be followed up with a colonoscopy. Learn more about colorectal cancer.
Talk to your primary care provider about scheduling your colon screening, or call (864) 920-1022 to schedule today.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and worldwide. Approximately 85% of lung cancer occurs in current or former tobacco smokers.
Lung cancer risk factors include: smoking tobacco; exposure to radon, asbestos or other cancer-causing agents; family history of lung cancer; personal history of a smoking related cancer; certain chronic lung diseases. Learn more about lung cancer.
Eligibility for Screening
Individuals at an increased risk of developing lung cancer should meet the following criteria:
- 55-77 years old with 30 pack years smoking history*
- Current smoker or one who has quit within the last 15 years
- No symptoms of lung cancer and willing and able to undergo treatment if necessary
*Pack years = years smoked X average packs/day smoked
Potential Screening Benefits: Effective research-proven screening exam; early diagnosis which can lead to improved outcomes; non-invasive testing; decreased radiation exposure.
Potential Screening Risks: False positive test results; false negative test results; finding late-stage cancer; overtreatment including additional tests or procedures; radiation exposure.
Lung Cancer Alliance
The GHS Cancer Institute’s Center for Integrative Oncology and Survivorship (CIOS) has been named a Screening Center of Excellence by the Lung Cancer Alliance for its ongoing commitment to responsible lung cancer screening. This center is one of five in the state of South Carolina and one of only 250 nationally recognized sites.
Best Chance Network
Best Chance Network provides breast and cervical cancer screenings to women in South Carolina who are between the ages of 30 and 64 and are medically underserved.
- Help and guidance from nurses
- Clinical breast exam by a breast surgeon
- Screening for cervical cancer
- Testing as recommended by a surgeon that may include mammogram, ultrasound and further work-up
- Follow-up appointments as needed
- Referrals to other physicians
If you meet the qualifications for the Best Chance Network, call the Best Chance hotline number: 1-800-450-4611 to learn which locations are open and closest to you. Learn more about the Best Chance Network and participant criteria.
Colon Cancer Prevention Network
We now offer colonoscopy screenings for colon cancer to established patients who are uninsured or underinsured and meet the following criteria:
- No history of cancer. (Does not include skin cancers—squamous or basal cell)
- Must be age 50-64, or 45-64 if African American
- Must be living at 150% poverty level
Learn more about this program by calling (864) 455-2476.
Certain popular ideas about how cancer starts and spreads—though scientifically wrong—can seem to make sense, especially when those ideas are rooted in old theories. But wrong ideas about cancer can lead to needless worry and even hinder good prevention and treatment decisions.
- Artificial sweeteners cause cancer. MYTH
- Cell phones cause cancer. MYTH
- Power lines cause cancer. MYTH
- Herbal products can cure cancer. MYTH
- No one in my family has had cancer, so I’m risk-free. MYTH
- Screenings and early detection save lives. REALITY
(Source: National Cancer Institute. For more information on these topics, visit their website.)