DYK: There Are Self-Exams For These 4 Types of Cancer?

When it comes to cancer, early detection is key. When found early, cancer is often times more treatable and in some cases is even curable. And while annual cancer screenings are usually recommended for individuals 40 and older, it is never too early to start self-exams and other forms of early detection

Self-exams are not used to diagnose cancer; however they do provide a valuable opportunity to become more self-aware. By becoming more familiar with your body, you are able to learn what normal means for you personally. Having this foundation will allow you to better recognize any abnormalities in the future.

Tiffany Holmes, MPH, an American Cancer Society Patient Navigator at Gwinnett Medical Center, provides helpful tips on how to perform four different self-exams. Keep in mind that with self-exams if you find anything abnormal or suspicious, talk with your doctor.

Colorectal cancer, is surprisingly one of the deadliest cancers; however, like many other cancers, it is treatable and in some cases even curable when found early. Colorectal cancer is one of the most detectable forms of cancer, especially when routinely assessing your risk and screening for any symptoms. 

One of the best ways to do this is with a free colorectal screening kit. This kit detects the presence of blood in the stool, which can indicate precancerous polyps, or growths. In the event that you have a positive test, the experts at GMC will ensure that you receive the additional screenings or treatment that you may need. 

Testicular cancer is most commonly found in older men with about 6 in 10 diagnoses being in men aged 65 or older. In fact, with early detection it is nearly 100 percent curable. To perform a testicular self-exam, it is recommended that you do it when your scrotum is relaxed, like after a warm shower or bath. 

Start by standing in front of a mirror to check for any swelling on the scrotal skin. Next, use both hands to examine each testicle. Place your index and middle fingers under the testicle and place your thumbs on top, gently but firmly roll the testicle between your fingers and thumbs. Focus on the texture and feel for any irregularities.

In addition to the testicles, you will also need to check the epididymis and the vas. The epididymis is a rope-like structure that runs along the back of each testicle, gently press it to feel for any abnormalities. Finally, check for any changes in the vas, which is a tube that runs from the top of each testicle, it should feel like a firm noodle.

Skin cancer is the most common cancer amongst Americans; nearly one in five will develop it in their lifetime. Skin cancer is often curable when identified and removed early. 

When performing a skin self-check, you should use both a full-length mirror and a hand mirror, but most importantly, be thorough. With bright lighting, stand in front of the full-length mirror and check every surface of your body from head to toe. This includes commonly overlooked areas like your scalp, armpits, elbows, fingernails, genitals (using hand mirror) and even the soles of your feet. 

While performing your self-check follow the ABCDEs, look for asymmetry, border irregularity, color (multi-colored), diameter (larger than a pencil eraser) and evolving (changing).

Breast cancer statistics continue to grow with nearly 1 in 8 U.S.women developing breast cancer at some point in her life. While the breast self- exam (BSE) is very well-known, it is still as important as ever for every woman over the age of 18. Every month, it is recommended that women complete a BSE looking for any changes or distortions in the way that breasts look or feel. 

Start by standing in front of a mirror with bright lighting and examine each breast for any dimpling or puckering, any nipple abnormalities (different position or inversion), or any redness, soreness or swelling. Next, raise your arms and look for those same changes. 

After this, feel each breast while lying down and standing (using the opposite hand to feel each breast), use a firm touch with two fingers in a circular motion (about the size of a quarter). Make sure to cover each breast entirely using a pattern, such starting at the nipple and moving outward.

Don't Put Off Prevention

Each of us is at risk of developing cancer. But utilizing self-exams, early-detection screening kits and routine screenings, you can detect cancer at its most treatable stage. At GMC, our experts are driven to provide the best in patient-centered care, from diagnostics to treatment. With extensive resources, GMC will provide customized care at every stage of the healing process. 


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