Leading a healthy lifestyle and being screened for certain cancers can dramatically increase your odds of detecting cancer at its earliest and most treatable stage.
You can reduce your overall risk of many types of common and potentially deadly cancers by not using tobacco, maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular physical activity, eating properly (including plenty of fruits and vegetables), limiting your alcohol consumption and protecting your skin. 
Sometimes, cancer is unavoidable. Nevertheless, cancer screening exams are medical tests done when you’re healthy, and you don’t have any signs of illness. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for curing the disease are greatest.
The following are general recommendations for cancer screening. Talk to your doctor about your specific cancer risks, family history, signs and symptoms to watch for, and which screening exams are appropriate for you.

Breast Cancer
Yearly mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40. Clinical breast exams should be done about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and older. Women should also consider breast self-exams beginning in their 20s. Additional or earlier screening may be recommended based on family and personal history.

Colorectal Cancer
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should begin screening for colorectal cancer. Screening for colorectal cancer may include a combination of one or more of the following exams – flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy and fecal occult blood test. Your doctor will best advise you about the most appropriate approach for your age and risk factors.

Cervical Cancer
All women should begin cervical cancer screening no later than age 21. Regular pelvic exams and Pap tests are important to detect early changes that may lead to cancer of the cervix.

Prostate Cancer
One out of every six men is at risk for developing prostate cancer in his lifetime, and one in 30 is at risk of dying from it. The prostate gland secretes and releases a protein called PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen). PSA can be easily measured with a simple blood test. Measurement of this protein, along with a medical history, and a physical exam, including a “DRE” (Digital Rectal Exam), can identify men who need further testing, such as a prostate biopsy.
The American Cancer Society recommends that men make an informed decision with their doctor about whether to be tested for prostate cancer or not, and at what age to begin.

Skin Cancer
Your doctor should examine your skin for signs of cancer during regular checkups. You should also check regularly for new growths, sores that do not heal, changes in the shape, size or color of any moles, or any other changes on the skin.
Dr. Morgan Barrett, Radiation Oncologist for Ozark Medical Center Cancer Treatment Center in West Plains, Mo.


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