Prevention and Screenings
Making healthy choices and being screened for cancer are keys to good health
and could help reduce your risk of developing cancer and other illnesses.
Your overall health, including risk of cancer and other diseases, is affected
by what you eat, how much you exercise, and other habits.
Studies show that just 20 minutes after a smoker kicks the habit, both
heart rate and blood pressure drop. And within 5 years, the risk of getting
cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, and bladder is cut in half. Click
here (link to smoking cessation page under Health & Wellness) for
valuable tools that will help you successfully fight the urge to smoke.
Maintain a healthy weight
Maintaining a healthy weight decreases your risk for developing several
types of cancer. The best way to manage your weight is to make healthy
food choices and incorporate exercise into your weekly routine. Health
benefits increase when you lose even a small amount of weight. If you
need help, our Health & Wellness Center (link to Health & Wellness
service page) can work with you to create a plan that works best for you.
Stay physically active
Staying physically active helps keep the body healthy. Adults should be
active for at least 150 minutes each week, and children should be active
for at least one hour per day.
Make healthy food choices
Eating at least 2.5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily gives your body
antioxidants, vitamins, fiber and minerals, and can also help with weight
control. When making healthy food choices, whole grain is better than
processed, or refined, grains, and lean meats are healthier than processed
and red meat.
Limit alcohol consumption
Limiting alcohol consumption can help your overall health and in reducing
your risk for cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends a maximum
of 2 drinks per day for men, and 1 drink per day for women.
Early detection, or screening, is especially important if you have a family
history of cancer and if you are prone to certain types of cancers. Finding
cancer as early as possible helps doctors treat the disease before it
can spread, and while it is still small.
- Your doctor giving you a physical exam
- Your doctor asking about and becoming familiar with your family medical history
- Having lab work done to see if there are issues in your body
- Having imaging procedures, such as X-rays, taken
- Undergoing genetic testing to find any changes in your genes that may be
linked to cancer
Certain screenings have been proven to reduce deaths from cancer and are
recommended for certain demographics.
Important Screenings & Exams
Your doctor can use screenings to detect certain cancers, even when you
don’t have symptoms. Finding cancer in early stages helps your healthcare
team treat the disease before it spreads and grows.
Certain screenings are recommended depending on age, gender and family
history. Please talk to your doctor if you have a family history of cancer.
If you do not have a family history of cancer, standard recommendations are:
- At any age, women should be familiar with the normal look and feel of their
breasts. If you see any changes, talk to your doctor immediately.
- Talk to you doctor about whether your risk for breast cancer is higher
than average, and if it is, discuss your plan for when you should start
getting mammograms and other possible tests.
- At age 40-44, women should be able to choose to screen for breast cancer
by having a mammogram.
- At age 45, women should start having annual mammograms.
- At age 55, women are recommended to get mammograms every 2 years, or annually
if you choose.
- If you have a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer, you should continue
cervical cancer testing for 20 years after the initial diagnosis.
- Women age 21-29 should have a Pap smear and HPV test every 3 years.
- At age 30, women should get a Pap smear and HPV test every 5 years or continue
to get a Pap smear every 3 years.
- Women who have had a hysterectomy unrelated to cervical cancer do not need
to be tested.
- Beginning at age 50, all men and women should be screened for colon cancer.
Talk to your doctor about which type of test you should have, and how
often you should have it.
- Men and women who are 55 or older should discuss smoking history and early
lung cancer screenings with your doctor. If you currently smoke or quit
smoking in the past 15 years and do not have signs of lung cancer, a lung
cancer screening could help you. All insurances do not cover this screening,
so you should also find out how much the test will cost.
- If you had more than one close relative who had prostate cancer before
age 65, talk to your doctor at age 40 about the uncertainties, risks,
and potential benefits of getting screened.
- If you are a man age 45 or older and are at higher than average risk of
prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about screening. Men at higher than
average risk are defined as those with a father, brother or son who had
prostate cancer before age 65 and African American men.
- All men should talk to their doctor at age 50 about potential risks and
benefits of prostate cancer screening.
Learn more about different cancers and the
American Cancer Society’s guidelines for if and when you should be screened.
Your family history is an important factor in your risk for cancer. If
you or someone in your immediate family has had cancer, you may consider
Genetic screening is a personal choice that can help inform you as you
make choices about your and your family’s health.
During genetic screening, a geneticist investigates your probability of
developing cancer by closely examining your personal and family history
and reviewing a specialized blood test.
If you have one or more of these personal or family history characteristics,
you should talk to your doctor about genetic screening:
- Breast cancer before age 50
- Bilateral breast cancer or two primary breast cancers
- Two or more breast and/or ovarian cancers in the family
- Male breast cancer
- Jewish ancestry and family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Colorectal cancer before age 50
- Endometrial cancer before age 50
- A history of 20 or more non-cancerous colon polyps
Two or more related cancers
- Colon/endometrial (if these cancers occur in addition to ovarian, other
GI, liver, or renal cancers, Lynch Syndrome should be considered)
- A known cancer gene mutation in the family
Scientists have only discovered a handful of cancer genes and it is possible
that a genetic change exists in your family that cannot be detected by
current testing methods. It is also possible that even with a family history
of cancer, you may not have inherited that specific gene change. If no
genetic change is found, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will
live cancer-free. Likewise, if you are found to have a genetic change,
it is possible that you may not develop cancer.
If you do learn you are genetically at risk for cancer, your geneticist
will help you understand and address your particular level of risk for
cancer, and will work with you to determine how you might use your test
results to make future decisions for you and your family, such as preventative
lifestyle changes, early detection methods or pretreatment options.
Genetic testing may be covered by some insurances; however, Louisiana law
restricts the use of genetic information by insurers and employers and
prohibits discrimination based on the results.
To make an appointment with our certified geneticist, call (225) 237-1600.