Cancer is term that encompasses over 100 specific diseases. All those specific diseases start out the same way – a group of abnormal cells start to replicate out-of-control. The replication can lead to illness and even death. As we continue with our cancer research we are discovering that early detection is key for many types of cancer. 

The American Cancer Society continually updates their list of early detection methods and guidelines for certain types of cancer. 


Bladder Cancer

The bladder is the organ that holds urine that is waiting to be voided. Currently, scientists are not sure of the cause of the bladder cancer, but we do think smoking increases the risk of developing bladder cancer. The Great American Smokeout is November 15 and is an excellent time to quit smoking.

Symptoms of Bladder Cancer include:

  • Lower abdominal pain
  • Blood in the urine
  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Painful urination
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Urine leakage
  • Weight loss with no known reason

 For more information on bladder cancer, visit: 

Breast Cancer

The second most commonly diagnosed cancer in women is breast cancer, second only to skin cancer. About 1 in every 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Women in the U.S. have the second highest death rate for breast cancer, with lung cancer being the most prevalent cause of cancer death.

Risk Factors:

  • Gender – females are more at risk for developing breast cancer
  • Age (50 and above)
  • Menstruation beginning at an early age
  • Family history of breast cancerb
  • Changes in specific genesc
  • Being of Caucasian ethnicity
  • Medical history of estrogen use
  • Hardening of breasts
  • Alcohol overuse
  • Age at first born child

Scientists and researchers cannot definitively find any cause that is directly linked to breast cancer, however, there are known risk factors that are used to screen patients. These risk factors alone do not completely include or exclude a patient. Studies have been performed that show that those who develop breast cancer did not have any risk factors commonly associated with breast cancer.

Breast cancer may or may not exhibit any symptoms in its early stages. As the cancer begins to grow, the patient can see symptoms that may be possible signs of breast cancer.

  • Symptoms/Signs of Breast Cancer:
  • Lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area
  • Change in size or shape of breast
  • Dimple in the skin of the breast (may also change to orange color)
  • Nipple that turns inward into the breast
  • Fluid discharge, other than milk, coming from the breast
  • Red or swelling on the skin of the breast, nipple, or areola

Prevention is key and having yearly mammograms or breast exams are of the up-most importance in finding breast cancer early and in a very treatable phase. Women are recommended to start having mammograms as early as age 40 every 1 to 2 years. Those under the age of 40 are recommended to have clinical breast examinations (with the aid of a physician) or self-examinations every 1 to 3 years. Those with an increased risk, due to family history or otherwise, are recommended to start having mammograms at an earlier age. 

Slightly higher risk if menstruation started before age 12. A woman’s risk increases if a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) has been diagnosed with breast cancer. (About 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.). Regarding the risk factor of specific genes, these genes can carry mutated information from either mother/father or both. By inheriting these mutated genes, a woman is up to 80% likely to develop breast cancer.

Slightly higher risk if woman has first child after the age of 29 versus those who gave birth before turning 29 years old. 


Breast Cancer. Sept. 2011. Web. 8 July 2012.

Breast Cancer Risk Factors. University of California San Francisco. Web. 12 July 2012.

General Information About Breast Cancer. National Cancer Institute. 21 June 2012. Web. 2 July 2012.

The Five Steps of a Breast Self-Exam. 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.

U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. 14 Mar. 2012. Web. 5 July 2012.

Cancer Screening Guidelines

Not all cancers are created equal. And not all cancer screening is equally effective at saving lives. For example, some doctors order ovarian cancer screening. But the tests used to help spot ovarian cancer often cause false alarms, increase costs, and lead to unnecessary procedures – without saving lives.1

Other types of screening, such as for cervical or colon cancers, are much more helpful at preventing cancer or finding it early and reducing deaths. Here’s what you need to know about new screening guidelines for these two cancers.       

Cervical cancer. In the past few decades, screening has helped reduce deaths from cervical cancer. Researchers have learned a great deal about the best ways to screen for this type of cancer. As a result, the American Cancer Society (ACS) revised its guidelines. One of the big changes in the screening guidelines has to do with how often to get a Pap test.2

The ACS included guidelines for both the Pap test and HPV (human papilloma virus) test.  The Pap test can find early cell changes or cancer. The HPV test finds certain infections that can lead to cell changes and cancer.

According to the new guidelines, cervical screening for women should begin at age 21, even if you have had the HPV vaccine. The ACS recommends:

  • Ages 21–29: A Pap test every 3 years.
  • Ages 30–65: A Pap test and HPV test every 5 years or a Pap test every 3 years.
  • Ages 65 and older: No screening if regular screenings have produced normal results, but continued screening if you have been diagnosed with cervical pre-cancer.2

            You may need to be screened more often if you are at high risk for cervical cancer. You don’t need screening at all if you have had your uterus and cervix removed and have no history of cervical cancer or pre-cancer.2            Colon cancer. In the U.S., colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.  Recent studies show that screening prevents colorectal cancers. It also cuts deaths from the disease. Still, only 6 in 10 adults 50 and older get screened.3 

New guidelines from theAmericanCollegeof Physicians (ACP) now focus on each person’s individual risk.

  • People of average risk: Screening should start at age 50. This includes stool sample tests or insertion of a narrow tube with a camera into the rectum (optical colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy).
  • People at high risk (with inflammatory bowel disease or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer): Screening should start at age 40 or earlier. People at high risk should have optical colonoscopy. This is the most sensitive test.
  • People who are over 75 or have a life expectancy of less than 10 years do not need screening.3

Want to learn more about these or other types of cancer? 

Or, need to understand an upcoming test or procedure?  Go to where you’ll find a wealth of information on these and many other topics.   


MedlinePlus: “Ovarian cancer screening popular despite guidelines.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2012.

ACS: “New Screening Guidelines for Cervical Cancer.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2012.

HealthDay: “New ColonCancer Screening Guidelines Focus on Individual Risk.” Available at: Accessed March 23, 2012.

Colon Cancer

Colon cancer starts in the large intestine, and is one of the most deadlist forms of cancer. However with new medical innovation colon cancer is often completely curable if detected early. The American Cancer Society recommends colorectal screening for all men and women start at age 50.

Symptoms of Colon Cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness in the lower abdomen
  • Blood in the stool
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or other change in bowel habits
  • Narrow stools
  • Weight loss with no known reason

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most deadly cancer in America. It kills more men and women than breast, colon, and prostate cancer combined.Cigarette smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer.

  • Early Symptoms of Lung Cancer
  • Chest pain
  • Cough that doesn’t go away
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss with no known reason
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath

Smoking Cession is a great way to improve your health and decrease your risk of developing lung cancer.


November 15 is an excellent time to quit smoking.  An annual initiative of the American Cancer Society, The Great American Smokeout encourages smokers to plan to quit smoking. The American Cancer Society has a wealth of resources to help motivate patients to kick the habit. 

Prostate Cancer

Prostate cancer is a cancer that starts in the prostate. The prostate gland wraps around the male’s urethra and aids in reproduction. Prostate cancer is the most common cause of death in men greater than 75 years of age.

  • Symptoms of Prostate Cancer
  • Delayed or slowed start of urination
  • Dribbling or leakage of urine, most often after urinating
  • Slow urinary stream
  • Straining when urinating, or not being able to fully empty the
  • Blood in the urine or semen
  • Bone pain or tenderness, most often in the lower back and pelvic

 Many of the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia) are the same as Prostate Cancer. As men age it is important to talk with their healthcare providers about Prostate Cancer and BPH.