Questions to ask about finding cancer early
The following are questions that you can ask the healthcare team about early detection of and screening for cancer. Choose the questions that fit your, or your child’s, situation and add questions of your own. You may find it helpful to take the list to the next appointment and to write down the answers.
- Is there anything that can be done to find this cancer early? Are there tests for this cancer?
- What is involved in testing for this cancer? What tests are used?
- Should I be tested? Why?
- Should my children be tested? Why?
- How often should test(s) be done?
- What are the risks involved with the test(s)?
- When will the test(s) be scheduled? Is there a waiting list?
- Who makes the arrangements or appointments for the test(s)?
- Is there a cost for the test(s)? If so, how much?
- Where will the test(s) be done?
- Is any preparation needed for the test(s)?
- How long will the test(s) take?
- Are there any side effects to the test(s)? Is the procedure painful?
- Who will explain the test results?
- May I have a copy of the test results?
- What happens if the results are not normal?
- What other tests will need to be done? Why?
Finding a precancerous condition or cancer at an early stage.
For most cancers, early detection and starting treatment at an early stage can help improve survival.
Checking or testing for a disease in a group of people who don’t show any symptoms of the disease.
Examples of cancer screening tests include mammography, colonoscopy and Pap test.
Organized screening programs are offered to groups of people through a coordinated program. Opportunistic (or ad hoc) screening is offered outside of an organized screening program (for example, some women have Pap tests at their doctor’s office during a physical exam).
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.