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Note: This cancer preventive care series is in collaboration with Pamela Clayfield who is an RN in family practice based in Canada. The series will cover preventative care screening available to catch cervical, colon and breast cancers in their early stages when they are treatable. It would talk about what is available, why it’s important and how to proceed (see family doctor) with getting the testing done and the importance of staying on top of the testing every 2 (mammogram & colon) and 3 years.

In medicine very little surprises me anymore.  As an RN in family practice for more than a decade, I have seen and heard just about everything and I have watched as changes have been made to the system, not all of them wise.  One of those wise decisions was creating the Preventative Care programs that are in multiple countries around the globe because cancer is the leading cause of death, or holds a spot in the Top 10 list, in most countries.  Treatments have changed for the better and most cancers can be completely eradicated if caught early enough.

Nobody is exempt from cancer and the disease has impacted most of us in one way or another, either directly or with a family member or friend.  If it’s not someone we know personally we know of someone.  We know the impact, the effect the disease has on these people and we know the side effects of the treatment.

Cancer starts when the DNA in the cells is damaged and cells start to reproduce with this damaged DNA and then those cells reproduce, usually at a quicker rate, creating a tumor made of these abnormal, or cancer, cells.

Though called Preventative Care, these programs don’t actually prevent so much as they screen to catch the abnormal cells before they spread, when there is a better chance of treating it successfully.

The three most common programs are for people who do not have any symptoms.  They screen for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers and it’s important to take advantage of these programs.

As a Registered Nurse I’ve heard the excuse from patients that they don’t want to know.  I try to remind them that not knowing lets the cells grow until it’s too late.  Do they want to know then?

I have also seen many happy endings from the screening and have felt the direct impact personally in the last year.  I have also seen the cases when it’s been too late and patients have died weeks after diagnosis from a disease found too late.

This series will cover the basics of the three screening programs, how the screening is performed, what each screen for, what could happen if the screening is not done or done too late. Hopefully, the series is going to help you be proactive with cancer prevention and management.

Posts in this series will be published every Tuesday

Pamela Clayfield
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