Continuing our topic this week on patient safety, we are taking a look at cancer screenings. As previously mentioned, one form of a medical error can be an incorrect diagnosis. One way to improve safety in this area is by completing recommended physical examinations, per your healthcare provider.
What is a cancer screening? A cancer screening is done to check for cancer before symptoms develop. Cancer screenings may be recommended as a result of a physical exam and can be a precautionary action. Screenings should be followed up with in a timely manner and in the frequency recommended to you by your healthcare provider. There are risks associated with screening tests due to the inaccuracy of the testing and possible side effects from the exam. It is essential to consult with your healthcare provider about which testing is appropriate for you.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommends 4 specific cancer screenings: breast, cervical, colorectal and lung. Cancer screenings on these specific types of cancers is likely to detect the cancer at an early stage where treatment is expected to work the best. Here are the specific screenings available for each of these types of cancer.
- Breast Cancer—Mammogram or an MRI.
- Cervical Cancer—Pap test and/or a HPV test
- Colorectal Cancer—Stool test, Colonoscopy, Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, and/ora CT Colonography
- Lung Cancer—Low-dose Computed Tomography
As a part of our education about cancer screenings, it is important to understand that a cancer screenings is not a diagnosis; rather they are a signal for more testing to be completed. Click here to see additional information and resources from the Center for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/screening.htm) and from the National Cancer Institute (https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/screening/patient-screening-overview-pdq).