What’s the best gift you can get this holiday season? Ask anybody who has ever been sick – I mean really sick – and their answer is always the same: good health.
But that’s all luck, right? If you get sick, you get sick. Ah yes, true, but the earlier you catch an illness, the more likely you are to recover from it. That’s exactly why it’s so important to pay attention to your body. It’s easy to put everything off in the busy holiday season, adopting a Scarlett O’Hara attitude: “I’ll think about that tomorrow.” Yet tomorrow may be too late. Women, in particular, are so busy taking care of their families that they often ignore themselves. And, of course, there’s often a bit of denial in the way. “If I pretend nothing is wrong, it’ll go away.” Only it won’t. It’ll just get worse.
That’s why it’s worth paying attention to these tips.
Warning signs and symptoms of any illness can be subtle, especially in the beginning, but remember: no one knows your body better than you. Dr Richard Quek, a senior consultant in Medical Oncology at Parkway Cancer Centre, says any persistent or unusual symptoms that develop and don’t go away should be examined. First, call your doctor; they can then refer you to a specialist if needed.
- Changes in bowel habits
- Unusual bleeding
- Odd lumps and bumps (especially in the breasts)
- Unexplained weight loss
- Changes in moles
- A wound that won’t heal
- Persistent cough or breathlessness
Guide to Screenings
Screening aims to detect disease before the condition gets out of hand. Truly, catching something early may very well mean the difference between life and death.
Health Science Authority (HSA) recommends that women above the age of 40 should discuss yearly mammograms with their doctors, and then begin routine bi-annual breast mammogram examinations at age 50.
- PAP Smears
PAP smears in ladies are very effective in the early detection of cervix cancer. Routine PAP smears should begin at age 25 or once a person becomes sexually active, and then performed once every three years. PAP smears can be done together with testing for human papillomavirus virus (HPV), a known risk factor for cervix cancer. If both the PAP smear and the HPV test are negative, screening tests can be repeated once every five years.
Colon cancer is very common and highly treatable when found at an early stage so screening is a must, beginning at age 50. There are many options, but the most direct is a colonoscopy. If the initial exam is clear, you only need to repeat it once every ten years.
I know; Santa is on the way. A house full of relatives is about to descend. Your health is the last thing you want to think about. But hey, give yourself a gift. Give your family a gift. Make that screening appointment today so you’ll be here to celebrate the holidays next year, too.
Want more information on screenings or to schedule one for yourself? Contact Parkway Cancer Centre.
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