Doctors are better able to treat diseases when they are caught in time.

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Primary care physicians focus on keeping you healthy and treating you when you get sick. They know your history and can ensure you get the right cancer screenings at the right time.

If more people sought preventive care, it could reduce the incidence of many major diseases. When doctors can detect cancer early, the disease is easier to treat.

Here are the top five cancer screenings recommended by Dr. Richard Grucz, who practices family medicine for Beaumont Family Medicine:

Mammogram

Mammograms check for breast cancer and changes in breast tissue. Women without a family history or genetic risk factors should have a first mammogram between the ages of 40-45. Most women should have a screening mammogram every one to two years after their first depending on age and risk factors. Women with a family history of breast cancer or genetic mutations that put them at high risk for developing breast cancer should have earlier and more frequent tests.

Pap smear

A pap smear looks for changes to the cervix that might indicate cervical cancer or a precancerous condition. The cells taken from the cervix during the test can also be used to test for the presence of HPV and can determine the HPV sub-type. Frequency of testing depends on your age, history of abnormal pap smears, and the type of HPV if present. 

Lung CT screening

If you have a history of smoking, a lung CT could help detect lung cancer early. Computed tomography (CT or CAT scan) is a diagnostic test that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create images of the body. A CT scan shows detailed images of the bones, muscles, fat, blood vessels and organs. CT scans help physicians diagnose many conditions that might not be caught with other imaging methods like X-ray or ultrasound.  This test starts for those age 55 or older and have greater than 30 pack-years of smoking. A pack-year is one pack of cigarettes per day per year. One pack per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years would both be 30 pack-years.

PSA test

PSA testing allows doctors to look for signs of prostate cancer in men. Most men have their first PSA at age 50. Men with a family history of prostate cancer should get screened earlier. Patients and their physicians should discuss the risks and benefits of PSA screening.  

Colonoscopy

A colonoscopy checks the colon for signs of cancer or pre-cancerous changes. Women and men who are healthy and don’t have known risk factors typically have their first colonoscopy at age 50, and every five to 10 years after. Ask your doctor what’s right for you.

If you don’t have a primary care doctor, find one. Talk to your doctor about screenings and tests you should have and when you should have them.

Members of the editorial and news staff of The Detroit News were not involved in the creation of this content.

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