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Cancer Screening

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Cancer Screening in Staten Island, NY

When the body’s cells grow irregularly and out of control, cancerous tumors can form and even spread rapidly to other parts of the body. No matter a patient’s medical history or risk factors, it is highly recommended to undergo routine cancer screenings, especially for those over the age of 45. Cancer screenings thoroughly check the body for cancer and can detect the presence of the disease before symptoms appear. These very early stages of cancer are oftentimes the easiest to treat, giving patients the best chance at a successful recovery.

Serving Staten Island, New York, Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) is known for its expert oncology services, first earning accreditation over 80 years ago from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer, making its cancer care program the longest consecutively accredited program of its kind on Staten Island. RUMC’s expert oncologists, radiologic technicians and medical staff have provided a broad range of oncology services through the Cancer for Center Care, Pediatric Oncology Department, and Breast and Imaging Center. From state-of-the-art treatment options to preventative cancer screenings, RUMC takes every measure to protect the health of its patients and community.

Blood test sample for cancer screening resting on chart

Why Are Routine Cancer Screenings Recommended?

Aside from detecting numerous types of cancer in the earliest possible stage, Richmond University Medical Center’s cancer screenings can also detect abnormal cells, which may or may not develop into the disease.

Cancer sometimes presents without symptoms, making screenings even more crucial for detecting tumors and abnormal cells as soon as possible. The longer the cancer goes undetected, the more symptoms develop and worsen, and this can make cancer harder to treat or cure, especially if it spreads to healthy tissues and organs elsewhere in the body.

Additionally, there are different considerations for men and women when it comes to cancer screenings. Some types of cancer only affect one sex (i.e. prostate, ovarian), so choosing a provider who is well-versed in the nuances of the disease is essential. Richmond University Medical Center tests for all of the common and rare cancers affecting men and women, with the goal that conducting regular screenings can help save more lives.

How Cancer Screenings Work

The process for cancer screenings is straightforward and may include the following techniques, regardless of the patient’s gender:

  • Physical exams: A physician will closely look at and feel the body for abnormalities, such as lumps, enlarged organs, or changes in skin color.
  • Family histories: Practitioners will ask patients for their family history of cancers and other diseases to determine risk and which screenings, if any, should be prioritized.
  • Laboratory tests: Urine and blood tests, amongst others, can help physicians detect irregularities that might be caused by malignancy.
  • Imaging procedures: These internal examinations use noninvasive methods to determine the presence of cancer, including computerized tomography (CT) scans, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), bone scans, ultrasounds, and positron emission tomography (PET) scans.
  • Genetic evaluations: DNA samples, typically taken from the patient’s saliva, blood, or cheek cells, are required when testing for genetic mutations related to increased cancer risk.
  • Biopsies: If an area of concern is indicated during a screening, a biopsy might be taken immediately, commonly done for possible skin cancer, or at a later date. After collecting a sample, physicians examine cells under a microscope to detect irregularities.

Once the results are in, Richmond University Medical Center’s oncologists meet with patients who have tested positive for cancer, offering a supportive environment and decades of expertise. Those testing negative for cancer are highly encouraged to maintain a routine screening schedule, especially if they have a family history of cancer or have been exposed to risk factors.

Types of Cancer Screenings

At Richmond University Medical Center, cancer screenings are available for all types of patients, regardless of gender or age. The seasoned oncology team provides the following types of screenings:

Breast Cancer Screening

Though it is the most common cancer in American women, men are also affected by the disease. Breast cancer risk increases with age, but it can occur at any time in life. Regular self-examinations of the breast can go a long way in detecting breast cancer as early as possible. However, physicians should examine patients regularly for signs of breast cancer.

It is highly recommended that women begin annual mammograms by age 45. At age 55, mammograms can be spaced out every two years if patients have had good results. Genetic testing for the BRCA genes is also recommended, regardless of age or family history.

Cervical Cancer Screening

Patients with a cervix should receive a primary human papillomavirus (HPV) test every five years, beginning at age 25 through age 65. This is because chronic infections caused by specific forms of HPV are the highest risk factors for developing cervical cancer.

A routine pap test is also recommended every three years, as it can indicate irregular cells in the cervix. If a patient has a history of cervical pre-cancer, they should get screened annually for a minimum of 25 years following the diagnosis.

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Patients at average risk for colorectal cancer should begin screenings at age 45 until they turn 75. The frequency of screenings will depend on each individual’s case. After age 75, screenings are no longer necessary if the patient has displayed positive results for 10 straight years. However, patients at higher risk for colorectal cancer should screen annually and start before turning 45. Risk factors for colorectal cancer include:

  • Being obese or overweight
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Older age
  • Smoking
  • Eating high concentrations of red and processed meats
  • Personal or family history of polyps or colorectal cancer

Lung Cancer Screening

Smoking tobacco most frequently causes lung cancer, but it can happen to non-smokers through exposure to chemicals, air particles, radon, and other contaminants. Depending on their smoking history, those ages 50 and older should receive yearly low-dose CT scans, a common lung cancer screening method. Screenings are also recommended for individuals who:

  • Currently smoke
  • Quit smoking within the last 15 years
  • Have a 20-pack-year* history of smoking
  • Show no signs of lung cancer, as serious symptoms often appear in later stages

*Consuming one pack of cigarettes per day per year equates to one pack year. Patients with a 20-pack-year history may have smoked one pack per day for 20 years or two packs per day for 10 years.

Ovarian Cancer Screening

While ovarian cancer can develop at all ages, most women experience it during older age. Routine ovarian cancer screenings are recommended for all people with ovaries, especially if they:

  • Had their first child after 35
  • Never had children
  • Are between ages 50 and 75
  • Used estrogen as their sole hormone replacement therapy

Prostate Cancer Screening

The most common cancer amongst American men, prostate cancer risk increases with age and is most common in patients over age 65. It is recommended that all men with average risk begin prostate cancer screenings at age 50. A physician may urge patients with the following risk factors to begin screenings sooner or get screened more often:

  • African American descent
  • History of prostate cancer before age 65 in close family members (i.e. father, son, brother)
  • Men with more than one relative with a history of prostate cancer before age 65

Skin Cancer Screening

Because anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of race and skin type, regular skin cancer screenings are vital for one’s overall health. Annual skin cancer screening may not be necessary for those without a history of skin cancer or the presence of suspicious moles or spots. However, people with fair skin are more likely to get skin cancer than those with darker skin, so routine screenings might be recommended for lighter complexions.

Outside of a screening with a physician, people should regularly check their skin for moles or unusual changes. If anything concerning arises, a screening should be their next step.

Thyroid Cancer Screening

There is no recommended screening test for people at average risk. However, if patients have a family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC), with or without multiple endocrine neoplasia type 2 (MEN2), they should discuss their options with the Richmond University Medical Center oncology team.

Lowering Your Risk of Cancer

Unfortunately, some cases of cancer are inevitable and cannot be prevented. However, making healthy lifestyle decisions can help to prevent certain types of cancer and related conditions. Consider these tips from Richmond University Medical Center:

  • Abstain from tobacco and drink alcohol only in moderation
  • Exercise for at least 150-300 minutes a week with moderate-intensity workouts or activities
  • Include fruits and vegetables for a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Maintain a healthy weight by balancing caloric intake with the right amount of physical activity
  • Wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing

Learn More about Cancer Screenings in Staten Island, NY

Richmond University Medical Center is proud to serve the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan Area with cancer screening services, as well as education about the disease and the latest treatment options in medicine. For more information about cancer screenings or other services, contact Richmond University Medical Center today.