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Start these 3 screenings younger

A man holds a scan of his digestive system.

Sept. 10, 2021— When it comes to detecting lung cancer, colorectal cancer or diabetes, earlier is better.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends starting screenings for these three conditions five years earlier than before. Early diagnosis may make it easier to treat and even cure them.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in the U.S. And it's the leading cause of cancer death. What's the biggest risk factor? Smoking. That's why current and some former smokers should get tested regularly.

When to start: You should get a low-dose CT scan each year starting at age 50 if:

  • You have a history of smoking an average of a pack a day (20 cigarettes) for 20 years.
  • You currently smoke or have quit in the last 15 years.

Screenings can be stopped:

  • When you haven't smoked for 15 years.
  • If you develop a health problem that reduces your life expectancy or your ability or willingness to have lung surgery.

Colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. And it's becoming more common in younger people. Finding cancer early can lead to better outcomes. And one screening option can even prevent colorectal cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. During a colonoscopy, polyps can be removed before they develop into cancer.

When to start: The USPSTF now recommends that most adults start regular screenings at age 45. Some people should start earlier. Ask your provider what's right for you.

There are many options for colorectal cancer screening, including:

  • Stool tests.
  • Colonoscopy.
  • CT colonography.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy.

You and your provider can decide which tests are best for you and your health.

Diabetes

About 13% of U.S. adults have type 2 diabetes. But it may not cause symptoms, so many people don't know they have it. Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious health problems, including heart and liver diseases, kidney failure, and blindness. It was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2017.

When to start: Screening is recommended for people over age 35 who are overweight or obese. A simple blood test can measure your blood sugar levels.

Don't put it off

Finding health problems early can make them easier to treat. And it can give you peace of mind. Talk to your doctor about which screenings are right for you.

And don't let concerns about COVID-19 stop you from being screened. Find out the five kinds of care you shouldn't put on hold.

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