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The Importance of Cancer Screenings

Jan 10, 2019

Skipping recommended cancer screenings could put you at risk of fatal health problems, according to a new study.

This new study found that people who did not get their ovarian, colorectal, lung and prostate cancer screenings were more likely to die. But these people were not necessarily more likely to die from the cancer they were supposed to be screened for — instead, they were more likely to die of any cause.

Because regular cancer screenings are part of chronic disease prevention guidelines, skipping cancer screenings may suggest that the person does not follow other healthy recommendations that can prevent serious illnesses, such as getting regular exercise, not smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and more.

Among more than 77,000 study participants, those who adhered to cancer screening guidelines were much more likely to survive over 10 years of follow-up than those who did not receive any screenings, this study found.

Regular cancer screenings can help detect cancer before it causes symptoms. Early detection means early treatment, and early treatment can mean you're more likely to survive, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Various health agencies, such as the US Preventive Services Task Force, release recommended cancer screening guidelines for the various types of cancer. These recommendations can sometimes conflict, and they are not necessarily applicable to every individual's unique situation. On top of that, there is some debate about the effectiveness and timing of certain types of cancer screenings.

That's why it's so important to ask your health care provider which screenings are right for you and how often you should get them.

This new study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

Information on study funding sources and potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.

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