Proactive Care For A Healthy Future
Depending on your condition and risk factors, screening can identify cancers in their earliest stages when they are most treatable. For many cancers, such as ovarian or pancreatic, by the time symptoms are obvious the cancer may be harder or impossible to treat. We dedicate time and resources to screening to ensure you can live with the peace of mind that your are in control of your health.
In most cases, testing and screening starts with regular visits with your primary care doctor. You may go through routine preventive screening, like a mammogram or prostate exam. If you are experiencing suspicious symptoms or find an abnormality, like a breast lump, your doctor may recommend that you undergo additional testing.
Your screening or test will be performed by your primary care doctor, a specialist or a technician (your results will be interpreted by your doctor or a specialist in these instances). If an abnormality is found through an ultrasound, imaging, or physical exam, it will likely be recommended that you have a biopsy.
Learn when to get a screening. View the American Cancer Society’s recommendations for screening here.
A biopsy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves taking a small sample of tissue from a tumor or potentially cancerous area. During the procedure, patients are partially or completely sedated to minimize pain.
We schedule these tests as soon as possible, so you don’t have to wait anxiously. In fact, we can often do a screening and biopsy on the same day, if that’s your preference.
The results of your biopsy will determine if your tumor is benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). If your tumor is cancerous, we’ll need to do further testing to determine the stage. This may involve an MRI, PET scan or CT scan, which take internal images of your entire body, or parts of your body. This imaging is not painful.
We’ll then determine what stage your cancer is in. There are four stages of cancer—Stage 1 is the most treatable, while Stage 4 is the most difficult to cure, often because the cancer may have spread to other areas of your body.
What Your Diagnosis Means
It can come as a shock to hear that you have cancer, especially if you feel healthy. Even though you might be worried and scared, rest assured that your care team—all the doctors that have worked with you so far, and those who will work with you moving forward—will develop a treatment plan to help you tackle your disease.
Your care team will discuss treatment options, give recommendations and provide educational materials so you and your family can make an informed decision on next steps. You’ll also have the opportunity to receive counseling and get valuable emotional support from a Behavioral Health Specialist. Our staff is specially trained to help you cope with the anxieties and fears that can accompany a cancer diagnosis. They are an important part of your healthcare team and will help guide you in your treatment journey.
Although we don’t know what causes most cancers, you can take steps to reduce your risk for many different cancers. While there is no one-size-fits-all preventive routine, ways to reduce your risk for cancer include:
- Minimizing alcohol consumption
- Avoiding tanning booths
- Eating a balanced diet
- Getting proper exercise
- Maintaining healthy body weight
- Not smoking
- Using proper skin protection when working or playing outdoors