According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1.4 Million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer this year. Many cancers, if detected early, can be treated completely. Cancer screening may reduce cancer morbidity since treatment for earlier-stage cancers is often less aggressive than that for more advanced-stage cancers. Most cancer screening tests are noninvasive or minimally invasive. Higher risk people should contact their doctor regarding a tailored cancer screening program.
Some individuals are known to be at high risk for cancer, such as those with a personal history of cancer or a strong family history of cancer (in two or more first-degree relatives); increasingly, as genetic mutations and polymorphisms are found to be associated with specific cancers, high-risk individuals will be identified through genetic testing.
The following cancer screening guidelines are recommended by the American Cancer Society for those people at average risk for cancer (unless otherwise specified) and without any specific symptoms.
People who are at increased risk for certain cancers may need to follow a different screening schedule, such as starting at an earlier age or being screened more often. Those with symptoms that could be related to cancer should see their doctor right away.
For people aged 20 or older having periodic health exams, a cancer-related checkup should include health counseling, and depending on a person's age and gender, might include exams for cancers of the thyroid, oral cavity, skin, lymph nodes, testes, and ovaries, as well as for some non-malignant (non-cancerous) diseases.
Special tests for certain cancer sites are recommended as outlined below:
Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Clinical breast exam (CBE) should be part of a periodic health exam, about every 3 years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women at high risk (greater than 20% lifetime risk) should get an MRI and a mammogram every year. Women at moderately increased risk (15% to 20% lifetime risk) should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram. Yearly MRI screening is not recommended for women whose lifetime risk of breast cancer is less than 15%.
While free radicals cause damage to the DNA, if the cell with the error does not replicate there is no risk of disease. If that cell begins to grow uncontrollably you develop cancer. Estrogen stimulates cell growth in the breast.
Estrogen and Breast Cancer
All estrogens are not the same, some estrogen are stronger than others. The longer you are exposed to a strong estrogen the more likely a damaged cell will be stimulated to grow.
In order to decrease your risk, you need to know what are strong estrogens and how do you limit your exposure.
Estradiol is the strongest estrogen your body makes. It is made with each menstrual cycle. The fewer menstrual cycles you have the less exposure to estradiol. That is why early menstruation, late menopause and delayed childbirth increases your risk of cancer. During pregnancy you make a very weak estrogen called estriol that protects against breast cancer. Women are choosing to have fewer children, delaying childbirth, and opting not to breast feed, thereby, experiencing approximately 200 more menstrual cycles than their mother or grandmother.
External estrogens are much more powerful than estradiol. They also have a much more stimulatory effect on breast cancer cells. These external estrogens are found in pesticides in our food and water. Even though they are in small quantities, the fat in breast tissue can concentrate them to toxic levels. Animal fat also concentrates these estrogen like compounds that stimulate the breast tissue when they are consumed by humans.
To decrease your risk you must limit your exposure to strong estrogen. Use organic pesticides, eat organic fruits and vegetables. Decrease animal fat. Eat soy, it works like estriol. It is a weak estrogen that is protective against breast cancer.
Colon and rectal cancer
Beginning at age 50, both men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below. The tests that are designed to find both early cancer and polyps are preferred if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have one of these more invasive tests. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.
Tests that find polyps and cancer
flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years* colonoscopy every 10 years double contrast barium enema every 5 years* CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that mainly find cancer
fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year*,** fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,** stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain*
*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
**For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. A FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor's office is not adequate for screening.
People should talk to their doctor about starting colorectal cancer screening earlier and/or being screened more often if they have any of the following colorectal cancer risk factors:
a personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns disease or ulcerative colitis) a strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative [parent, sibling, or child] younger than 60 or in 2 or more first-degree relatives of any age) a known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
All women should begin cervical cancer screening about 3 years after they begin having vaginal intercourse, but no later than when they are 21 years old. Screening should be done every year with the regular Pap test or every 2 years using the newer liquid-based Pap test. Beginning at age 30, women who have had 3 normal Pap test results in a row may get screened every 2 to 3 years. Another reasonable option for women over 30 is to get screened every 3 years (but not more frequently) with either the conventional or liquid-based Pap test, plus the HPV DNA test. Women who have certain risk factors such as diethylstilbestrol (DES) exposure before birth, HIV infection, or a weakened immune system due to organ transplant, chemotherapy, or chronic steroid use should continue to be screened annually. Women 70 years of age or older who have had 3 or more normal Pap tests in a row and no abnormal Pap test results in the last 10 years may choose to stop having cervical cancer screening. Women with a history of cervical cancer, DES exposure before birth, HIV infection or a weakened immune system should continue to have screening as long as they are in good health. Women who have had a total hysterectomy (removal of the uterus and cervix) may also choose to stop having cervical cancer screening, unless the surgery was done as a treatment for cervical cancer or pre-cancer. Women who have had a hysterectomy without removal of the cervix should continue to follow the guidelines above.
Endometrial (uterine) cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that at the time of menopause, all women should be informed about the risks and symptoms of endometrial cancer, and strongly encouraged to report any unexpected bleeding or spotting to their doctors. For women with or at high risk for hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), annual screening should be offered for endometrial cancer with endometrial biopsy beginning at age 35.
Both the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test and digital rectal examination (DRE) should be offered annually, beginning at age 50, to men who have at least a 10-year life expectancy. Men at high risk (African-American men and men with a strong family of one or more first-degree relatives [father, brothers] diagnosed before age 65) should begin testing at age 45. Men at even higher risk, due to multiple first-degree relatives affected at an early age, could begin testing at age 40. Depending on the results of this initial test, no further testing might be needed until age 45.
Information should be provided to all men about what is known and what is uncertain about the benefits, limitations, and harms of early detection and treatment of prostate cancer so that they can make an informed decision about testing.
Progesterone and Cancer
If estrogen stimulates cell growth, what is the role of progesterone? Since estrogen and progesterone balance each other progesterone slows normal and abnormal cell growth.
Progesterone has been shown to decrease normal breast cell growth and to slow the growth of cancer cells in the breast and uterus. High dose progestin is used to treat uterine cancer in women that refuse surgery or who are not healthy enough to survive surgery.
Progesterone can slow cell growth even if the cells are exposed to estrogen. One study gave women estrogen cream and another group progesterone cream. The number of cells replicating in the estrogen group was 10 times more than in the progesterone group. What is more interesting is that if you add progesterone to the estrogen group, the cell growth returns to normal.
Another study done at Johns Hopkins Medical School revealed that women with progesterone deficiency were 5.4 times likely to have breast cancer prior to menopause. It seems that you must have an adequate amount of progesterone to balance your estrogen exposure in order to prevent estrogen stimulated cancers.
You may want to consider supplementing with natural progesterone while you try to change your diet and lifestyle to decrease your estrogen exposure.
Also, if you have breast cancer , progesterone can be used as hormone replacement to alleviate hot flashes. Studies have shown that natural progesterone applied to the skin will alleviate menopausal symptoms in 83 % of women. Estrogen is contraindicated in anyone who has breast cancer while progesterone is safe and does not increase a woman’s risk of recurrence of breast cancer.