Regular mammograms are another tool for helping detect breast cancer as early as possible. Ayon recommended that most women – those with a normal, cancer-free history – should begin having yearly mammograms at age 40.
He noted, however, that women with a specific mutation in the BRCA gene should begin regular mammograms at least 10 years earlier – at age 30. This hereditary mutation causes a disposition toward the development of breast and ovarian cancers compared to women without said mutation.
Ayon further recommended that women with a family history of breast cancer should also begin regular mammogram screenings at age 30.
Another group at a greater risk for breast cancer is women with “dense breast tissue.” Because dense breast tissue and lumps are both white on a mammogram, cancerous tissue can go undetected in these patients. The state of Indiana, in fact, requires women with dense breast tissue to be notified and consulted regarding the increased risk.
In regards to lung and bladder cancer prevention, the oncology specialist again returned to smoking cessation. “Stop smoking,” he said, “and avoid second-hand smoke.” Moreover, anyone with a longstanding history of smoking (20 years and up) should undergo regular low-dose radiation chest CT screening, he added.
Most people might not consider smoking as a significant risk factor for the development of bladder cancer; indeed, the risk of bladder cancer itself often tends to be overlooked, Ayon agreed. Smokers, however, should be aware of their increased risk for this form of cancer.
“All the toxins [produced by smoking] are deposited in the bladder,” Ayon explained.
With early detection, the prognosis for bladder cancer tends to be positive. However, if the disease has spread into surrounding muscle tissue – also known as muscle invasion – the outlook isn’t quite as positive, with many such patients requiring a cystectomy – a complete or partial removal of the bladder, which greatly affects the patient’s quality of life.