From Dr. Rahul Kapur
Colon Cancer Screening Recommendations:
- According to the National Cancer Institute, colon cancer is the 3rd most common type of cancer in men (behind prostate and lung cancer) and women (behind breast cancer and lung cancer). It is the second leading cause of death in the U.S. behind lung cancer.
- Risk factors for colon cancer include age > 50, having inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis), a strong family history of colon cancer, and smoking.
- Symptoms that may make you worried about colon cancer include blood in the stool, change in bowel habits, weight loss, fevers/chills, and early satiety (feeling full even after eating a small amount). Please tell your doctor if you have any of these symptoms.
- Screening: The gold standard for screening is a colonoscopy. This involves having a long scope inserted into your bottom to look through the entire large bowel. Patients often require some form of sedation and need to have their bowel cleansed or prepped prior to the procedure. This is undoubtedly an unpleasant experience but is the best way to ensure that you do not have any abnormal areas in your colon. The good news is that if it is normal, you won’t need another one for 10 years!
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines:
- Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women, and is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in women.
- Risk factors include family history, early age of periods, late menopause, nulliparity (no children), obesity after menopause, hormone replacement after menopause, alcohol consumption, and radiation therapy to the chest
- Symptoms can include a lump or asymmetry in the breast, color change or dimpling, or abnormal discharge from the nipple.
- The main test used for breast cancer screening is a mammogram (x-ray of the breast tissue). Other test options include ultrasound and MRI, though these are usually recommended to follow-up abnormalities on mammogram and/or for higher risk patients.
- Screening Guidelines:
- Most medical agencies including the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute recommend yearly mammograms starting at age 40 for average-risk women. There is debate on what age to stop getting mammograms.
- There has recently been enormous controversy regarding breast cancer screening guidelines. The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) announced the following new recommendations in November 2009:
- recommended against screening mammography in patients younger than age 50 (so NO mammograms for women age 40-49)
- women aged 50-74 should get a mammogram once every 2 years, NOT yearly
- women aged 75 or older do NOT need a mammogram
1) “Screening for Breast Cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Reommendation Statement,” Annals of Internal Medicine, Nov. 17
Rahul Kapur, MD, CAQSM
University of Pennsylvania Health System
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
Assistant Professor, Family Medicine and Sports Medicine
Assistant Director, Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship
Clinical Practices of the University Of Pennsylvania
Medical School: University of Virginia School of Medicine
Internship: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Residency: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Fellowship: Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
American Medical Society of Sports Medicine
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Medical Association
Pennsylvania Medical Society