Cancer Screenings: FSA Eligibility
How are cancer screenings conducted?
Cancer screenings refers to medical diagnostic procedures that are meant to determine whether an individual has cancer, typically before symptoms have appeared. Whether an individual has a family history of a specific cancer, has reached a particular age where the condition is likely to emerge or showcases other major risk factors, cancer screening regularly can increase the chances of early detection, which is the time when cancer treatments have the best possible chances of success.
Cancer screenings encompass a huge range of potential procedures that target varying parts of the body in both men and women, but the most common screenings include via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Breast Cancer: While patients are urged to conduct their own self-examinations to chest for lumps and hardness, the most effective means of detecting breast cancer is the mammogram. This x-ray of the breasts is used both as a screening method and a diagnostic tool to examine the underlying tissue.
- Cervical Cancer: The Pap test is the preferred method to detect cervical cancer in women, as it can detect abnormal cells in the cervix that could turn into cancer over time. Pap tests are renowned for their ability to detect cancer early, which can dramatically increase the chances of curing the disease.
- Colorectal (Colon) Cancer: This cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the colon or rectum divide uncontrollably, which can ultimately result in precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) which are the precursors to malignant tumors. Individuals who are at a high risk of colorectal cancer should begin screening at regular intervals at age 50 with tests including fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
- Lung Cancer: Screening for this form of cancer is typically tied to an individual's history of smoking. Individuals between the ages of 55 and 80 who were smokers and have quit within the past 15 years should consider a low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) scan of their lungs to check for tumors and other abnormalities.
- Skin Cancer: Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the U.S., and individuals who have a significant family history, have spent significant time in sun and tanning beds or have a history of cancers and precancers should consider regular full body examinations by dermatologists to diagnose any suspicious skin growths before they can become more serious.
- Ovarian Cancer: Women who are at an increased risk (or three to six times greater than that of the general population) due to a first degree relative who has developed ovarian cancer, a prior personal history of breast cancer and other hereditary factors, or have an inherited risk due to genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes present), should consult their physicians about potential ovarian cancer screening methods, including CA-125 tests or a transvaginal ultrasound.
- Prostate Cancer: As with any other cancer, a man should consider prostate cancer screenings based on his family history and predisposition for these illnesses. The American Cancer Society suggests that men at age 40 who have more than one first-degree relative who has contracted prostate cancer should consider annual screening. Men aged 50 and older who have an average risk should begin screening at that time.