Cancer Care Makes More Progress
WebMD News Archive
Certainly, there still is cause for concern, Young says.
"Cancer continues to take a terrible toll on the American people ...
Estimates indicate that sometime within the next 10 to 15 years, cancer will
overtake [heart disease] and become the most-common cause of death in the
He also points out that with the aging population in the U.S.,
the actual number of deaths from cancer is likely to continue to increase.
But overall, we are winning the war on cancer, Young writes.
For any given age, he predicts we will continue to see a fall in deaths from
An important note is that these cancer numbers do not include
basal or squamous skin cancers, which on their own account for over a million
new cases every year. These cancers are not fatal but can be disfiguring if not
And there is plenty you can do to make sure you stay on guard.
Although there is some disagreement on the best route for preventing and
finding cancer early, the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends the
following cancer check-ups to continue our fight against this killer:
- Monthly self-breast exams beginning at age 20;
- Between age 20 and 39, women should have a breast exam by a doctor every
- Beginning at 40, women should have a yearly mammogram and breast exam by a
Note: The Canadian Task Force has concluded that breast
self-exam is of no benefit and may be harmful to women. The ACS will take these
findings into consideration in their upcoming update of their guidelines.
- Yearly Pap smears should begin at age 18 or earlier if sexually
- After three yearly normal Pap smears, testing can be done less frequently
at the discretion of the doctor.
- The ACS recommends regular Pap smears throughout life.
Hopefully, guidelines in 2003 will answer the question about
Pap smears in women who have had a hysterectomy.
If at average risk, beginning at age 50, you should have one of
the following five options:
- Yearly stool test for blood called "fecal occult blood test," or
Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years;
- Yearly FOBT plus flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years;
- Double contrast barium enema every five years;
- Colonoscopy every 10 years. The ACS recommends the combination of FOBT with
sigmoidoscopy rather than either one alone.