Published on March 01, 2016

Q&A: Early Detection of Cancer

with Michael Rachshtut, oncologist

Having a primary care physician is key to staying healthy—and to finding diseases, like cancer, when they’re easier to treat.

Michael RachshtutMercy Oncologist Michael Rachshtut, MD, talks about the importance of discovering cancer early—and how regular visits with a primary care physician can help.

Q: Why is it important to find cancer early?

Cancer in its early stages is usually curable. Also, if it’s found early, it’s less likely to come back.

Q: What are some warning signs and symptoms?

Cancer is a group of diseases that can cause almost any sign or symptom. Quite a few of the general tell-tale signs can be pretty vague. Losing weight for no known reason, for example. Losing your appetite for no known reason. Night sweats and fever can be symptoms of cancer. You should always tell your doctor if you’re having any new or unusual symptoms.

Q: What are the most important cancer screening tests?

Everyone should have a colonoscopy at age 50. Women should start having mammograms in their 40s. Women should have regular Pap tests too. Because they’re at increased risk, African American men should be screened for prostate cancer at age 40 instead of waiting until 50.

Q: How can my primary care doctor help?

Your primary care doctor knows your family medical history. If you have a close relative with cancer, you may be at risk too. So your doctor can order screening tests earlier or more often for you.