Cancer is a disease caused by rapid division of abnormal cells in the body. It can start from any part of the body and sometimes spread to other organs. Medical experts advised that the sooner it is diagnosed, the higher the chances your treatment will be more effective. If you have cancer, your chances of early detection are increased if you undergo frequent routine checkups and also self-exams.
A doctor can discover early sign of cancer via physical examination even in situations where a patient has no symptoms. Also, your doctor can suggest you go for some form of examination if he/she feels you have increased risk for cancer. Early detection can be dependent on some risk factors such as age, medical history, family history etc.
Below are some exams for both men and women
Skin: Your doctor should examine your skin during your regular checkups. Self-examination can also be done to check for new growths, sores that do not heal or physical changes of any moles. It is important to consult your doctor as soon as possible if any of these sign is noticed.
Colon and Rectum: Older adults from age 50 should undergo a yearly fecal occult blood test to check for hidden blood in the stool. In this case, a small amount of your stool is placed in a test tube and then sent to the lab. Colon cancer has bleeding in the rectum as one of it symptoms. However, blood in your stool does not guarantee you have colon cancer as noncancerous conditions can also cause bleeding. The lab result will determine your doctor’s next action. Subsequently, anyone over 50 should perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years or colonoscopy every 10 years.
Mouth: You can examine your mouth by looking into the mirror. Check for changes in the colour of your gums, lips, inner cheeks and tongue for any cracks, sores, white patches, swelling or bleeding. It is easy to trace symptoms in the mouth that might be cancer or lead to cancer. If any of these symptoms is detected, schedule an oral exam with your doctor. However, routine oral exam should be performed especially for those with alcohol or tobacco use and over 50.
Prostate: This affects only men, especially those over 40. At this stage in life, it is necessary to have a yearly digital rectal examination to check for lumps or hard areas on the prostate gland. The prostrate is felt through the wall of the rectum.
Testicles: This form of cancer is found in men majorly between the age of 15 and 34. It is mainly detected by men during self-examination. Physical changes include heaviness, swelling, unusual tenderness or pain in the scrotum area. Also, regular testicles checkup should be part of your doctor’s examination.
Breast: There is a high chance of complete recovery when breast cancer is found early. For this reason, cancer centers always encourage women to take part in early detection. This can include mammograms (x-rays of the breast), breast self-examination (BSE) or breast exam by a doctor or nurse. A mammogram is a very effective way to detect breast cancer. It can often show tumors or changes in the breast before any symptom is felt. However, mammogram is unable to detect abnormal areas in the breast of young women. In this case, a doctor breast examination is suitable. Also, a BSE enables a woman to determine what the look and feel normal of her breast is, thus easily detecting changes.
Cervix: A regular exam of the pelvic region and Pap test is a key way to detect early signs of cervix cancer. A doctor examines this region by feeling the vagina, uterus, ovaries, bladder and fallopian tubes for any physical changes. In Pap test, a sample is taken from the upper vagina and cervix and checked under the microscope for abnormal cells or cancer symptoms. Pap test is performed for women who are sexually active or over 18 years.
No matter the form of cancer, early detection is still the key to maximizing your rate of recovery. Always ensure that you go to your doctor if you feel any symptom through physical examination.