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The Health Screenings that could Change Your Life

A Positive and Constructive Influence

Screening for cancer in diabetic patients is crucial due to increased risk of cancer, decreased cancer survival and decreasing rates of cancer.

1. Cervical Cancer Screening

Why? In the UK alone, 900 women die every year because of cervical cancer, but it’s estimated that there would be four times as many deaths without the NHS smear tests. Doctors say, early symptoms can be difficult to spot, but once cancer has developed, it can spread.

How? Your GP will advice screening every three years if you’re aged 25-49 or every five if you’re 50-64. After that, you’ll only be invited for screening if you’ve recently had an abnormal test result or haven’t been screened since you were 50. A small plastic instrument is inserted into your vagina to hold it open gently, while a soft brush is used to ‘sweep’ cells off the surface of your cervix for testing. Cervical cells gradually change before becoming cancerous. These changes can be detected by screening long before symptoms appear, say Doctors. Results don’t take long. If they’re abnormal,  you may be invited for more screening or a colposcopy to remove abnormal cells.

Need To Know – Don’t wait for your next screening if you get symptoms such as unexpected bleeding, vaginal discharge, bloating or pain during/after sex. Contact your GP immediately. You can ask for a female doctor or nurse for the test.

2. Bowel Cancer Screening

Why? If bowel cancer is spotted earlier, it’s easier to treat and there’s more chance of surviving it. More than 41,000 cases are diagnosed each year and it kills 16,000 people a year.

How? Two common types of screening: Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test and bowel scope screening. FOB is offered every two years to everyone aged 60-74. You’ll be sent a test kit and asked to collect a stool sample and send it off to be checked for traces of blood, not visible to the naked eye, which can be an early sign. Bowel scope screening is a one-off test offered to people at 55, which is being introduced in England. A doctor/nurse inserts a thin tube to examine the lower bowel and remove any small growths (polyps) that could turn into cancer.

Need To Know – Call your local bowel screening help line for more information. No test is 100% reliable and there’s a chance cancer may be missed if it wasn’t bleeding at the time of the test, so always see your GP if you spot bleeding from your bottom or blood in your stool, a change in bowel habit, abdominal pain or bloating after eating.

3. Breast Cancer Screening

Why? It’s the most common cancer – over 55,000 new cases each year. Almost one in eight women will face this diagnosis, but survival rates are increasing. Almost 90% live at least five years after diagnosis, while many live for 20+ years. Screening is thought to save around 1,300 lives a year.

How? Breast screening (mammogram) uses a type of X-ray to examine your breast tissue, by compressing each breast, to detect early change in cells. Screening will be advised every three years between the ages of 50-70. You’ll get your first screening advice between 50 and 53 or from 47 in some areas that are running a trial extension of the programme.

Need To Know – If you find a lump or thickened tissue in your  breast, don’t wait to be called for testing see your GP immediately. You’re still eligible for screening after the age of 70 but you’ll need to contact your GP to arrange an appointment.

4. Finally, The Test That May Prove Vital For Your Man

Screening for all men is available for men over 50. One in eight develops prostate cancer around 47,000 new cases, and over 10,000 deaths each year. UK survival rates have tripled in the last 40 years thanks to earlier diagnosis and better treatment.

If your man has symptoms (slow/ hesitant urine flow, frequent/urgent/ painful urination, blood in urine, unexplained weight loss), see your GP.

Doctors say, many men put this off because they’re worried about having an uncomfortable back-passage examination, but it doesn’t take long and helps the doctor to decide whether he needs urgent referral for suspected cancer!

He’ll also need a PSA test (blood test to measure levels of an antigen) and urine checks for blood and infection.

5 DIY Tests

Try these simple at-home tests

1. Lungs – Walk briskly for two minutes while chatting to a friend. If you become breathless or start wheezing, see your GP for a check-up.

2. Gut – Eat sweetcorn and check how long it takes to leave your body to see how well your bowel is functioning. Your body can’t digest the shells of corn kernels, so they should be visible in your stool and they should take between 24-48 hours to exit. Longer than 72 hours can be a cause for concern. If you’re worried and have other bowel symptoms such as pain, bleeding or weight loss, see your doctor.

3. Memory – Count backwards from 100 to zero in sevens (93, 86, etc). The longer it takes, the ‘older’ your brain. Getting to 65 is a great score. See your GP if you are concerned about your memory.

4. Thyroid – An overactive thyroid sends the body’s functions into overdrive, causing a racing pulse, anxiety, diarrhoea, twitching muscles and unexplained weight loss. To test for this, check how much your hands shake by stretching one out, palm down and balancing a sheet of paper on top. If the paper visibly wobbles and you exhibit some of the above symptoms, see your GP.

5. Eyes – Look at a large window from across a room (wearing glasses it you use them). Put your palm over your left eye for 30 seconds while looking at the window with your right. Swap and look with the other eye. You should be able to see the edges of the frame as vertical and horizontal parallel lines. If the frame edges seem to have any kinks or are distorted or they bow in or out, it may indicate macular degeneration (common as we age), so see your Optician quickly for a review.

E256 – The Health Screenings that could Change Your Life – www.diabetic.today

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