As people grow older, their exposure to potentially cancer-causing agents increases. Their bodies also change and develop, as hormones become prevalent and then become dormant. The very act of cell growth can endanger a person and potentially cause cancer. Just like kids, teens and adults should see their doctors regularly, seniors should check into these cancer screenings as they age:
2. Prostate cancer
The likelihood that a man will get prostate cancer increases as he ages. The American Cancer Society recommends men who are in good health and expect to live for the next 10 years should speak with their doctors about prostate cancer testing. Overall health is a factor in this disease, and some men who have prostate cancer never need to treat the issue. Others require radiation and even surgery to remove the affected prostate. Family history and past cancer experiences may place senior males at a heightened risk of prostate cancer, indicating they should receive yearly or more frequent screenings.
1. Breast cancer
The American Cancer Society recommends that women who have an average risk of breast cancer get mammograms every year from age 45 to 55. After age 55, women with average risk can switch to every other year. Women who are at a higher risk, like those with a family history of breast cancer, those who have already had breast cancer and women who know they have genes mutations linked to breast cancer like BRCA, should speak with their doctors about screening frequency. These women likely require more frequent mammograms or other testing options. However, once a woman undergoes menopause, she is less likely to get breast cancer, so this is something to keep in mind. While breast cancer is most common in females, 1% of males actually develop breast cancer as well, so it is important to note the possibility, and to be proactive with prevention, no matter your gender. Any senior with concerns should speak with their physicians about recommended screenings.
3. Colon cancer
Both males and females can get colon cancer. The ACS notes that individuals age 65 and older should get tested. These screenings are covered under Medicare, and range from getting a colonoscopy every 10 years, a sigmoidoscopy every five years, a double-contrast barium enema every five years and a virtual colonoscopy every five years. Stool DNA tests, fecal immunochemical tests and guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests may also be options. Individuals with personal or strong family history of colon cancer or inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis may require more frequent screenings. Seniors can discuss their options with their gastroenterologist, oncologist or regular physician.
4. Lung cancer
Seniors who have a history of being involved with the armed forces, of smoking or being around smokers should consider getting low-dose CT scans every year to detect early lung cancer. Whether they smoked 30 years ago or have recently quit, any exposure to cigarettes, cigars and other smokeables can factor into lung cancer potential. Medicare covers lung cancer testing. Those who are unsure whether they should get screened for lung cancer should discuss the subject with a doctor. The physician will take a family and personal history as well as consider occupational hazards (such as waiting tables in a bar) before making a recommendation on lung cancer screenings