Cancer screening and catching a cancer early
All medical advice is that the earlier you discover a cancer the greater your odds are of beating it. In part this is true, as you are likely to have less of the different stages of the cancer process in your body. For example, catch a cancer early and it is unlikely to have spread to nearby local tissues and certainly not to distant tissues like the brain and liver. There is clear evidence for certain cancers that this is true. And this is where cancer screening comes in as a way of diagnosing cancer early.
However, there is a statistical game present as well. Let me explain. Two identical women both develop their first cancer cell on the same day. They both die seven years later on the same day. The one who is screened regularly discovers her cancer after six months and lives a further six and a half years she is a five year survivor. The identical woman only discovers the lump herself after four years and so only lives three years she is not a five year survivor. Failure. And 5-year survival is how Government´s judge their performance in treating cancer.
Be mis-diagnosed with a breast cancer or prostate cancer and you will appear in the diagnosed column, but you will survive and be a 5-year success too. The politics of cancer is in play big-time in the screening process!
Next, cancer screening historically has often been claimed as a pillar of cancer prevention, when most of it (apart from the notable exception of sigmoidoscopy for colorectal cancer) is definitely not.
Indeed, many women live in fear of developing cancer because they have been told it runs in families and someone dear to them did indeed develop it, or they may have been tested and found to have a genetic weakness (like BRCA1 or BRCA2). So they have a regular screening mammogram. All recent research evidence, however, points to this increasing their risks!
Here we look at cancer screening as a method for accurate cancer diagnosis in more detail. We cover mammograms, sigmoidoscopy, PSA tests, CT scans, and even the new blood test designed to catch a cancer almost before it has developed.
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