Screening should be part of your regular medical care. Screening tests help find some types of cancer before you have any symptoms. That means you have them even if you feel fine and have a healthy lifestyle.
Talk to your doctor to learn more about your risk of cancer and what screening tests you should have. Be sure to mention any family history of cancer. A family history of certain cancers may mean your risk is higher than normal.
The more time that tumors have to grow without treatment, the more likely they are to metastasize (spread elsewhere in the body). Therefore, public health agencies encourage people to be screened for early detection of those cancers that have an accurate test for disease biomarkers. For the general population, screening tests for colon, cervical and breast cancer are common. For those individuals at higher risk for nasopharyngeal cancer, the NP Screen™ genetic test is a 99% accurate method to detect the presence of NPC at its earliest stages.
What makes a good screening test
No screening test is 100% accurate, but a good screening test is one that results in a decrease in death rates in people with cancer.
Researchers also look for other benefits of screening including improved quality of life or less harmful treatments as a result of finding the cancer early.
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests reviewing several factors before introducing a test as a screening tool for the general population. These include:
• Sensitivity – How effectively the test identifies people who actually have cancer.
• Specificity – How often a test give negative (normal) results for people who do not have cancer.
• Acceptability – Will the population who will benefit the most from the test (the target population) agree to be tested by this method.
Early Diagnosis of Cancer
The best results for treatment arise when cancer is found early. The reason is because there is less opportunity for the disease to spread and metastasize to other parts of the body. Direct observation is often used for visible cancers, but even by this time the tumor volume is millions of cells in size. Ideally, cancers should be identified by early stage biomarkers in a blood or tissue sample. In this way, a marker would indicate that a particular cancer is present; for example specific metabolic or protein byproducts, or in the case of a viral infection, fragments of the viral genome would be evident.
Cancer Care Ontario
Cancer Care Ontario is an Agency of the Province of Ontario that is responsible for improving cancer services. CCO reaches out to Ontarians directly by encouraging them to be screened for a number of cancers including, breast and cervical cancer for women, and colorectal cancer for both men and women. Their motto is “Cancer Screening Saves Lives”. While CCO focuses on cancers that affect a majority of the inhabitants of Ontario, Nasopharyngeal cancer affects a much smaller subset of the population, and will require future ethnic focused education.