Technology in Cancer Screenings: How Do They Work?


Cancer is the leading cause of death in the world. According to the WHO, it accounted for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020.

While there’s no true cure, there are treatments that can put you in remission. Early diagnosis also helps. Generally speaking, the sooner it’s detected, the better the outcomes.

What are the different types of cancer tests? What technology is used in cancer screenings?

We’ll be going over all of the answers and more below, so be sure to read the rest of the post!

1. Mammography

Mammography is a type of medical imaging that uses low-energy x-rays to examine the breasts. There are two types of mammography, digital mammography and film-screen mammography, the former of which is much more common today.

In terms of the machine, there are two plates that compress the breasts—this will spread the tissues apart, which will allow for better imaging (x-rays don’t go through breast tissue easily). More often than not, pictures will be taken from two different angles for each breast.

Doctors will use these images to look for early signs of breast cancer through characteristic masses or calcifications. While they can’t prove for sure an area is cancerous; they can help doctors decide whether or not more testing is necessary.

2. PSA Test

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test is a blood test that’s used to measure blood PSA levels—a protein that’s produced by both noncancerous and cancerous tissue in the prostate. It’s currently recommended for men above the age of 50 (earlier if you have a family history of prostate cancer).

In healthy individuals, PSA levels are usually between 0 to 2.5 ng/ml. Depending on your age, however, it may be as high as 4.0 ng/ml. Anything higher than 4.0 ng/ml, and your doctor may recommend a prostate biopsy to check for signs of cancer.

If there’s a cancer diagnosis, they may suggest Provenge treatment, a type of immunotherapy that activates the immune system to attack prostate cancer cells.

3. Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is one of the most sensitive tests available for colon cancer screening. It involves inserting a thin scope with a miniature camera into the anus, which is then advanced slowly to the other end of the large intestine.

This will allow the doctor to examine the colon and rectum for precancerous polyps—abnormal growths that can eventually turn into cancer. For example, they may take a biopsy of the tissue.

The good news is that with early detection, the chance of survival is more than 90%; this makes colon cancer one of the most preventable types of cancer.

Different Types of Cancer Screenings

There are many types of cancer screenings, from mammograms to colonoscopies, all effective at detecting cancer at the early stages. For more information about these tests, talk to your health care provider.

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