As you approach your forties, putting more focus on your health can prevent issues that are caused by aging. While some problems are harder to prevent than others, early detection could be key for cancer, which has become more prevalent in those over 40 in nearly two decades, according to one study. If you are concerned about certain genetic or environmental risks for cancer, there are several screenings you might want to discuss with your doctor to discover which are the most beneficial for you.
- Breast Cancer
While checking yourself for breast cancer can be beneficial for detecting lumps, lesions, or changes in the nipples, yearly mammograms are also a useful tool for early cancer detection once you turn forty. Discuss screening options with your doctor, as well as your family’s medical history. Certain genetic factors can increase your cancer risk, so it is important that you give a complete report.
- Colon Cancer
The risk of developing colorectal cancer can increase once you turn forty and then climb as you approach age fifty. Screening for this type of cancer has simplified in recent years and can now be done at home by sending a stool sample to be tested. Since the kit can only be ordered by your physician, consider discussing risk factors during your next health checkup to learn whether it is necessary.
- Prostate Cancer
While some men do not opt for regular prostate exams until they are fifty, this type of cancer can have a variety of hereditary factors that affect your overall risk. For example, if your father or grandfather was diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of fifty, you might want to schedule yearly screenings once you turn forty. It is also important that you understand risk factors for this cancer, such as your ethnicity, level of exercise, and eating a diet high in fat.
- Lung Cancer
You might believe that your risk of developing lung cancer is low if you are a non-smoker; however, while avoiding tobacco and e-cigarettes can help you live longer, there are other factors that may affect your odds. Environmental and occupational circumstances can increase the risk, such as if you work in a factory that produces fibrous dust during the manufacturing process or if you work with certain chemicals. Living with a smoker can also raise your overall risk, so yearly screenings can be a wise choice if your spouse or another relative living with you is a smoker.
Even if you quit smoking recently, you might want to continue with an annual screening. Lung cancer can develop in those who have stopped using cigarettes, especially if you have quit within the past year or so.
- Cervical Cancer
This type of reproductive cancer can occur in women under forty, but the risk increases as you age. If you have not had yearly pap smears to detect cervical cancer, now can be the right time to start. It can be treated if caught early, and new blood tests developed by companies like Progenity, headed up by medical investor Dr. Harry Stylli, can help gauge how severe the cancer is and how likely it is to spread.
Giving your doctor a complete medical history can help him or her assess your risk when it comes to developing cervical cancer. The risks of this type of cancer can increase if you smoke, have had more than two children, or have any chronic illnesses that compromise your immune system. If you believe you are at greater risk, then consider yearly screenings right away.
A cancer diagnosis can be a life-changing event. However, because early detection is usually key when it comes to treatment, annual screenings after age forty can catch and identify any anomalies and put you back on the path to better health.