Screening tests are the first line of defense for cancer prevention

The choices you make about diet, exercise, and other habits can affect your overall health. These choices can also affect your risk for developing cancer and other serious diseases.

One choice you have control over is going to your doctor to get a screening test. Screening tests are your first line of defense in detecting cancer early, when the disease is most treatable.

Courtney Lane, nurse practitioner at Spectrum Health Cancer Center, talks about how health screenings are important for cancer prevention.

Cancer screening tests check for cancer before a person starts showing symptoms. If the screening finds a disease in its early stages, there's a better chance of being cured.

A cancer screening test could include:

  • Physical exam and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments are also taken and reviewed.
  • Laboratory tests: Medical procedures that test samples of tissue, blood, urine, or other substances in the body.
  • Imaging procedure: A type of test that makes detailed pictures of areas inside the body. Examples of imaging procedures are computed tomography (CT), ultrasonography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and nuclear medicine tests.
  • Genetic test: The process of analyzing cells or tissues to look for genetic changes that may be a sign of a disease or condition, such as cancer. These changes may be a sign that a person has an increased risk of developing a specific disease or condition.

Screenings can also include doing a genetic test to check for a person’s risk of developing an inherited disease, such as cancer.

Spectrum Health will be hosting an event where people can learn more about their cancer prevention methods at  "Eat well, Live well, and Thrive!" on April 11. There will be doctors providing in-depth discussions about health screenings, genetics testing, and lifestyle medicine. There will also be an onsite cooking demonstration incorporating nutrition with cancer prevention.

The event will be at the Downtown Market Grand Rapids from 6-8 p.m. It's free, but you must register to reserve your spot.

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