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Cancer – Screening

Sanjay Juneja, MD Sanjay Juneja, MD February 8, 2021
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Transcript

"A very common question that people have is, how do I know if I have cancer and what are the measures I should take to kind of be monitoring for it? So blood cancer tests aren't really a screening tool and we don't have a good measurement of knowing someone has cancer just based on a blood test, but there are very tight parameters on screening tests that you qualify for, that you're literally paying for when you pay for insurance to screen yourself, to see if you have something, because the data has shown that it would be probably lifesaving to do so, or like improve survival or disease complication. And by that, I mean the colonoscopies, right? So if you talked to your primary doctor, you usually start colonoscopies at 50, or 10 years sooner than a first degree family member that had colon cancer. So if they had it at 55, you would start it at 45.

And the reason for doing screening like this, as well as like your female exam and doing a full body skin exam to check for lesions, all of these screening modalities, mammograms, et cetera, is to catch a cancer early. So some people say, you know, I would rather not know I have cancer. That's why I don't need to do my colonoscopy. But what you're doing is you're trying to find it in a setting that's so small, like an early stage, where cutting it just even like during the colonoscopy or doing a little surgery, will keep it from ever going into other parts of your body to the point that it's incurable. And that's why these things are covered because the data suggests that if you do these colonoscopies and you see a couple of polyps that look a little suspicious, we know that these polyps in five years may become a problem.

And so instead of waiting 10 years for another colonoscopy, if it was completely clean, the recommendations are get one in five years. What you're paying for. Because again, the recommendations are always covered with your health insurance. So that's why these screening modalities are encouraged as well as for the example of smokers. So CT scans are covered now, annually, if you meet certain criteria, if you've been smoking for over 30 pack years, either still an active smoker or quit within the last 15 years, you get an annual CT. So ask your primary doctor about it. You definitely want to take all these measures in the hopes that you can catch something sooner before it becomes a big problem."

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