Cancer Screening: Beating Your Fears for Good
Many people avoid cancer screenings, even if they schedule yearly physical exams. One reason is inconvenience. Another reason is fear.
However, many cancers can be treated successfully, or at least kept in check, if caught early enough. And the screenings represent the best route to early detection.
The longer the cancer is in the body, and the longer it remains untreated, the more likely it will move to another part of the body through the circulatory system or lymph glands.
The good news is that being screened for cancer doesn't have to be a traumatic experience for anyone.
Steps to take
Exactly what screenings you should have depends on your age and risk factors. Children and teens, for instance, don't need screening. Adults should start with a physical exam and then ask a doctor which screenings are needed.
Here are some tips to help people overcome their fears of screenings:
Do as much research about cancer screenings as possible. Don't just rely on the popular media. Find reliable sources to verify information you find in popular media.
Take a friend with you who has already been through a screening.
Don't be afraid it will hurt. While some screenings may be uncomfortable (such as a mammogram), none should be painful.
Finally, tell your friends to get the screenings. You can help a great deal by going out and encouraging people to get their cancer screenings. Even if you can encourage just one person to get screened just one time a year, that can help.
- Foster, Sarah, RN, MPH
- MMI board-certified, academically affiliated clinician