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Diverse Group of Medical Professionals

Cancer Screening Guidance

This information is meant to be educational. These are guidelines only; please schedule an intake appointment for specific questions and other recommendations based on your personal history.

What is a screening test?

Screening tests are designed to pick up diseases in the preclinical phase. This is the phase of the disease before which any symptoms are present. By detecting disease in the preclinical phase intervention is more likely to give better outcomes. 

CanScreenBC currently offers consultation and follow-up services for cancer screening recommended by BC Cancer.  Screening tests are often misunderstood and people frequently wonder why all cancers can not be screened for. Click here to see what makes a good screening test or see below for information on current cancer screening guidelines. 

Breast Cancer Screening

Screening guidelines for breast cancer vary depending on a person’s age and risk factors. In general, it is recommended that women aged 50-74 have a screening mammogram every two years. Women aged 40-49 and women aged 75 and older may benefit from ongoing screening depending on select circumstances. 

Women who have a first-degree relative with breast cancer aged between 40 and 74 should get a mammogram every year. 

Women with known or suspected BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations should get tested every year from the age of 30.

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Cervical Cancer / HPV Screening

The HPV virus is the root cause of 95% of all cases of cervical cancer. HPV is the most common virus affecting the genitourinary tract.

 

It can affect all persons shortly after they become sexually active. If you have ever had any genital skin-to-skin contact with another person of any gender and you have a cervix, then you are at risk of cervical cancer and screening is recommended starting at the age of 25.

BC is transitioning from Pap test to HPV testing as the primary screening method for cervical cancer. Cervix self-screening is recommended every five years for women and people with a cervix ages 25-69 (or every three years for those who are recommended to have a Pap test).

Self-screening HPV tests can be requested direclty from BC Cancer - here

 

Unsure as to whether you are eligible or require a Pap Test? Please book an appointment for review a physician to review your needs - here.

 

*Currently, we can only offer Pap testing to those able to travel to Victoria for Testing.

Colon Cancer Screening

If you have a colon and are between the ages of 50-74, you generally qualify for colorectal cancer screening.

 

Past history and family history may change the recommended screening test. 

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Lung Cancer Screening

11% of Canadians smoke regularly. Smoking greatly increases the risk of lung cancer. Lung cancer screening is recommended to individuals who are:

 

1. Current or past smokers.

2. Are between 55-74 years old.

3. Have smoked for 20 years or more.

Prostate Cancer Screening & Surveillance 

If you have a past diagnosis of prostate cancer we can provide Prostate-Specifc Antigen (PSA) testing surveillance and arrange appropriate follow-up investigations. Please book a cancer surveillance consultation.

 

For those wishing to receive prostate cancer screening the issue is a little more complex.

 

If you have a prostate, you have some risk of developing prostate cancer. Prostate cancer screening, however, remains controversial and there is no true screening test for prostate cancer.

 

A blood test moniotring PSA is often wrongly described as a screening test. PSA is a protein made within the prostate of all men of reproductive age. Higher than normal levels of PSA found in the blood may indicate the presence of cancer, however it is not a marker of cancer and has many other causes.

 

When looking only at PSA levels, there is a risk of both "false positive" and "false negative" results that can cause confusion for both physicians and patients. In addition to this, many men will develop prostate cancer which poses little to no risk to their overall health. As such, people will often receive unnecessary investigations and treatments which carry risks such as impotence and incontinence which have their own effects on quality of life.

 

The British Columbian Medical Service Plan (MSP) does not cover routine PSA testing for 'screening' purposes. PSA testing can be completed at participating labs for a fee for 'screening' purposes. Please book an appointment to review your suitability for this test.

 

If you are experiencing any symptoms of an enlarged prostate such as weak urination, difficulty voiding, or nighttime awakening to void, please arrange a physical exam at a local clinic, Urgent Care Centre or Emergency Department.

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What makes a good cancer screening test?

What mkes a good cancer screening test

A good screening test possesses several key qualities that make it effective and reliable.

Firstly, it should have a high sensitivity, meaning it accurately identifies individuals who have the condition or risk factor being screened for. This ensures that as few cases as possible are missed during the screening process.

Secondly, a good screening test should have a high specificity, meaning it accurately identifies individuals who do not have the condition or risk factor. This minimizes the chances of false positives and unnecessary follow-up tests or interventions.

Furthermore, a good screening test should be easily accessible, affordable, and non-invasive, allowing it to reach a large population and be implemented on a wide scale. It should also be reliable and consistent, providing consistent results when administered multiple times. 

 

Lastly, an effective screening test should have evidence-based support, with well-established scientific validity and reliability. These qualities collectively ensure that a screening test can accurately identify individuals who require further diagnostic evaluation or intervention, leading to improved health outcomes and better resource allocation. 

Unfortunately, not all cancers have well-defined early detection markers and many do not show detectable signs or symptoms until they have reached advanced stages, making early detection difficult. In such cases, screening tests are not available or may be less effective.

Should you have further questions please read our FAQ or book an intake appointment to discuss your screening options. 

For further information please visit our FAQs here

or

For current screening options available in BC visit BC Cancer here

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